Lando Norris once more felt a pole position opportunity slipped through his fingers in Austin, though he expects the pack will be powerless to stop Max Verstappen in the United States Grand Prix.
While McLaren had been somewhat playing down the anticipated performance of the MCL60 in Austin, Norris and his team had a “pleasant surprise” as he found himself in the conversation for pole position.
He could not quite manage that, but will start on the front row, having fallen just 0.130s short of Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc.
Lando Norris blew pole chances at Turn 11
Just like in Qatar though, Norris was left with a hint of annoyance having felt pole was within reach, the Brit revealing that he had lost that all-important tenth with a whack of the kerb at Turn 11.
“I’m pretty happy with today,” he told Sky F1 after qualifying. “Probably wasn’t expecting to be as quick as what we were, so it was a pleasant surprise for the whole team I think.
“Still tricky, just a difficult circuit, bumpy and low grip in certain areas, easy to make a lot of mistakes. I think pole was in it today though. So I can be that little bit happier, but I’m taking P2 for now.
“Just some silly little things. It’s difficult to put a lap all together, I’m sure nobody did. You always just want a perfect lap and those little things…in Turn 11 I clipped the inside kerb, I probably lost a tenth and a tenth was at least enough to get me close enough to pole.
“Still a good day for us. I’m happy. It’s a good position for Sunday, we’re in a nice way at the minute, nice rhythm, and if we can do the same tomorrow and Sunday, then it’ll be perfect.”
Max Verstappen “guaranteed” to win US Grand Prix
F1 2023’s World Champion Verstappen had pole within reach, going 0.005s clear of Leclerc, only to see that final lap deleted for a track limits violation at Turn 19.
He starts P6 instead on Sunday, not that Norris thinks it will change anything for the Red Bull driver’s victory chances.
“It’s not going to be an easy one, Ferrari are very quick, Mercedes are very quick and especially on long runs they’re always very quick,” said Norris.
“And then Max is pretty much guaranteed to come through and probably win again. But yeah, we’ll do our best until that happens.”
Norris will have another opportunity to go for pole on Saturday in the sprint shootout, his team-mate having tasted F1 victory for the first time with a sprint win at the previous round in Qatar.
Piastri meanwhile will start the United States GP from P10 on the grid.