The only driver inside the top-10 starting Sunday’s Hungarian Grand Prix with a brand new set of medium tyres, Andreas Stella hopes that will be “useful” for Lando Norris in the 70-lap race.
McLaren followed up their British Grand Prix two-three on the grid with another blinder at the Hungaroring where Norris qualified third in the upgraded MCL60 to his team-mate Oscar Piastri’s P4.
But missing out on pole position by 0.085s, the Briton climbed out of his car somewhat dejected at his near-miss.
Lando Norris ‘always’ felt Mercedes had a ‘slight edge’
While Norris went from second in Friday’s practice to third on the grid, Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton made huge gains as he bounced back from 16th to take pole position with Max Verstappen qualifying P2.
The seven-time World Champion’s first pole of the season came on the back of reports Mercedes were worried that McLaren had overhauled them on the track. Norris says he “always” knew that wasn’t true.
“I think when you look at the big picture of where we’ve been, we’ll take P3 any day,” he told Sky Sports. “I’m not unhappy, I’m just frustrated with my lap but I know Lewis made a few mistakes, Max wasn’t at the best confidence levels so there’s always what else could you have done.
“But just on the lap, a couple little things at the chicane but many other things were the best I’ve done in qualifying so it’s just how it is sometimes.
“I always said Mercedes have the slight edge, apart from on the mediums in Q2, but they were a little bit behind in Q1 and in FP3.
“Lewis is going to say they didn’t look good yesterday but they didn’t put any softs on yesterday so they looked bad but actually they were very competitive already on the mediums. They are always good here, I think they were on pole last year.”
He added: “I just don’t think we had quite exactly what we needed to get pole so therefore I am so happy with P3.”
With Piastri qualifying his MCL60 up in fourth place, McLaren team boss Andrea Stella was a very happy man on Saturday evening.
“It’s good to be up there, third and fourth,” said the team boss. “I think that’s also credit to the drivers, they did a very good job in exploiting the potential of the car. We thought that in hot conditions here in Hungary we would be less competitive so I’ll take the positive.
“Okay, when you are in contention for pole you want to be there but let’s look at the positives.”
One big positive for Norris is the Briton is the only driver inside the top-10 who still has a brand new set of mediums at his disposal, something neither Hamilton nor Verstappen have.
“That’s one of the advantages of having a competitive car you are able to cash in something for the race as well,” he said. “Hopefully it will be useful.”