Lando Norris was relieved just to make it past Q1 in Belgium after an error wrecked the floor on his McLaren MCL60.
Norris went on to progress all the way to the final stage of qualifying, securing the P7 grid slot for Sunday’s Grand Prix as he fell three-tenths short of McLaren team-mate Oscar Piastri.
As it turned out though, Norris was no longer competing in a healthy McLaren MCL60 at that stage.
Lando Norris wrecked McLaren floor in Q1
The Brit would reveal after qualifying was complete that he had made a mistake in Q1 which had lasting consequences on the MCL60’s floor, the session having taken place on a drying Spa-Francorchamps track after an earlier deluge of rain.
Reflecting on his qualifying performance with Sky F1, Norris said: “I’m really happy, let’s say frustrated, I went off in Q1 and completely destroyed the floor.
“So I’m happy to have made it to Q3 and only be a couple of tenths off what Oscar did. I think he did a good job, like his middle sector was very strong.
“We’re very poor on the straights so there’s wins and losses, but I’m happy, it could have been a lot worse. I could have been out in Q1, so I’ll take a P7.”
Asked to clarify if the floor damage was significant, Norris replied: “Oh the whole thing, yeah.
“We tried to tape it. They did a good job on getting as much as they can fixed, but I think too much to be competitive today.”
As for whether the floor can be properly repaired with the cars now in parc ferme conditions, Norris said: “Yeah it can be repaired, I hope anyway. Normally, you can repair it.
“I guess frustrating, just because it was pretty close between us and some of the others. But hopefully tomorrow we can turn it into a better result.”
Oscar Piastri left time on the table
Piastri explained that even though he secured P5 on Sunday’s grid, the drying track actually proved to be a “hindrance” to him.
With the sole practice session of this sprint weekend having taken place on a rain-soaked track, qualifying was the first time that Piastri had driven a Formula 1 car at Spa in the dry, and so he feels he left further lap time on the table.
“I saw that they were taping up his floor quite a lot in the session, so I just asked what happened, and then we were talking about where we were quick, where we were slow compared to others,” Piastri told Sky F1 as he reflected on qualifying.
“I felt very comfortable when the conditions were really tricky like that. I think in some ways the track drying up and becoming closer to normal was a hindrance for me because I’ve not done a dry lap around here in an F1 car, so for braking points and stuff like that.
“Especially when off-line, it’s wet, you never want to brake too late and I think that’s where I left quite a bit on the table unfortunately.”
That being said, Piastri remains confident of further progress, noting that while Ferrari ahead look faster, Charles Leclerc set to start from pole on Sunday, the Spa track does lend itself well to overtaking.
“I think here is a track where you can overtake and make quite a difference with that, so we’ll see what we can do,” he continued.
“We’ve got another qualifying and sprint to go, but I think we can be confident, I think the pace in the car is still quite good.
“Obviously Ferrari seem stronger this weekend, so it’s not just sort of two teams fighting for the top. The second best, it’s more like three, possibly four. So it’ll be a tricky one, but I think we can have another crack at it tomorrow.”
McLaren go into Saturday’s sprint P5 in the Constructors’ standings and 80 points behind Ferrari.