Lando Norris thought his chances of starting a row further up the grid for the Hungarian Grand Prix had been compromised by a McLaren team mistake.
The Briton has only once finished outside the top five this season and will have every chance of maintaining that record from P6 at the Hungaroring.
But Norris felt he could have been starting ahead of Pierre Gasly’s AlphaTauri and even Sergio Perez in the Red Bull had he been able to tackle his final qualifying run on a pristine set of tyres rather than ones that had already been subject to a heat cycle.
“I’m satisfied, it could be worse for sure,” Norris told Sky F1. “We were very close to fourth, under seven hundredths [of a second] to Perez, so maybe not perfect.
“We didn’t give ourselves the best chance by scrubbing a set of tyres at the end of Q1 when we didn’t need to and when we are looking for these fine margins.
“That one out-lap meant the tyres were slightly different with the temperature, they didn’t act quite similar and it doesn’t give me the perfect baseline to then extract everything out of the car for the second run. A bit of a mistake, I think, on our part.
“Sixth is still a good position and we can get a good result from there tomorrow.”
Qualifying is over. 🏁
Lando will line up in P6 with Daniel in P11 for tomorrow’s #HungarianGP. 🇭🇺
The points come on Sunday, we’ll keep working. 👊 pic.twitter.com/1ktHh8jmE3
— McLaren (@McLarenF1) July 31, 2021
As has been the case pretty much all season, the 21-year-old was comfortably ahead of his team-mate, Daniel Ricciardo – almost half a second in Q2 which meant the Australian bowed out at that point and will start the race 11th.
After a step up at the British Grand Prix, where he finished fifth to achieve his best result since joining McLaren, it was another disappointment for Ricciardo who has struggled to adapt to the MCL35M.
“I knew after Silverstone there would be no guarantees I would be automatically quick here, it’s a very different track,” said the 32-year-old.
“But it’s definitely a track I enjoy. That normally counts for something but it’s when we really try and get those last few tenths out of it and lean on the car, it’s hard to basically feel it and get what I’m after.
“It felt okay, but okay isn’t good enough. I would love for it to have been a lot better by now, but it’s proving tricky.
“When you feel like it’s all right and you still don’t get into Q3, that’s when it’s a bit painful.
“Tyre choice will be a positive tomorrow but it still proves tricky, this beast. See what happens tomorrow and then we’ve got the summer break to switch off a bit.”