Lando Norris was pleased with his and McLaren’s qualifying performance at Interlagos, but felt a different approach may have given him an even better result.
Changing conditions in Sao Paulo set up a scintillating qualifying session, with Norris having recovered from a bout of food poisoning to be back in the cockpit in time for FP1 earlier in the day.
And the McLaren driver was on the pace from the off in qualifying, lapping quickest in drying conditions in Q1 and keeping himself in the mix at the front throughout.
With conditions worsening at the start of Q3, however, Norris and McLaren opted to wait a moment longer than their competitors to go out on track, which ultimately left the Briton with a wetter track surface to work with.
He still qualified fourth and with Haas driver Kevin Magnussen stunning the field to take his first career pole position, Norris was quick to congratulate the Dane – but felt taking the opposite approach at McLaren may have paid dividends.
“I think when the conditions were a bit more tricky, like Q1, I think we were the quickest and I was the quickest in those conditions,” Norris told Sky F1 after the session.
“But in the end there was a bit more ‘do we go out first when the track conditions might be the best or do we wait a little bit and hope they maybe get a little bit better?’ And we chose the second option, which maybe wasn’t the correct one at the end of the day, but I still managed to go P4 even with the wettest track out of everyone.
“So you win some, you lose some in some ways, and K-Mag obviously went out first and proved they were the best conditions.
“So congrats to him and Haas, but we still did a good job.”
When pressed if he thought he could have been at the sharp end on merit himself, he added: “I think if I went out first we should have been quicker than Haas. Should’ve, would’ve, could’ve – I’m happy with P4.”
McLaren team principal Andreas Seidl agreed Haas having the final garage in the pit lane at Interlagos paid off for them, with Magnussen able to get to the front of the queue and drive around Interlagos in the driest conditions in Q3.
He also congratulated Haas and Magnussen for their achievement, applauding the way they took initiative.
“In the end, I think it was an advantage to be first, obviously. They also have the advantage to be further down the pit lane so as soon as he would head out, they will go out [on track] as well but again, they got it right. Hats off.
“You have to congratulate [Haas], they did a great job. So let’s see what we can do tomorrow.”