Self-critical Lando Norris returns after nightmare Mexican GP qualifying

Jamie Woodhouse
Lando Norris, McLaren, in the paddock in Italy.

Lando Norris, McLaren, walking through the paddock.

Lando Norris said “it’s on me” after he failed to escape Q1 elimination with his sole soft-tyre attempt at the Mexican Grand Prix.

While Norris and McLaren had not quite looked like pole contenders in Mexico heading into qualifying, the team certainly would have expected to get both drivers beyond the Q1 stage, though this did not come to pass.

Norris appeared to be struggling on the medium tyres and then made an error on his opening push lap with the softs, meaning he had to go again if he wanted to escape Q1, though Fernando Alonso’s spin at Turn 3 brought out the yellow flags and scuppered those plans, confirming Norris’ elimination.

Lando Norris takes blame for shock Q1 exit

Norris was asked by Sky F1 to explain how the events unfolded, having pitted to ditch the mediums for soft tyres.

He said though that actually the “pace was good” and so why he was told to pit is a mystery, though he was not pointing the finger at his team, rather admitting that he should have done a better job.

“I got told to box for some reason,” he confirmed. “The pace was good.

“I don’t know, I got told to box so something obviously wasn’t right.

“But that wasn’t the problem, I just made some mistakes on my one lap that I had, obviously there was a yellow [flag] in the end from Fernando.

“So yeah, that one opportunity, that one lap that I was given, I didn’t put together and I went off and that was it.

“We’ll speak about it after. I had one lap and I didn’t do it, so it’s on me.” recommends

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Norris is not a driver who is reluctant to admit to his mistakes, which following the Qatar Grand Prix, where he was similarly hard on himself, caused 2016 World Champion Nico Rosberg to offer to help the McLaren driver with his “mental performance”.

“What was a little bit of a worry, because Lando always says himself how he has sometimes challenges with mental health, and I saw some signs of that unfolding again this weekend,” he said on the Sky F1 podcast post-Qatar.

“Because he goes into this spiral of then saying ‘I’m not good enough and I’m just making mistakes, I’ve done a bad job’, and he just repeats that over and over. And that’s a typical example of a little bit of a mental struggle there.

“And I was going to write [to] him maybe because I studied with psychologists for 10 years, I was really the driver who was most dedicated to improving my mental performance, but also mental well-being actually, because it came hand-in-hand.

“So I spent every two days, I worked two hours with a psychologist. It was more intense than the physical training. It was insane. And it really helped. It was a big, big part of me becoming a World Champion.

“So I wanted to write [to] Lando actually, and I wanted to say that one thing is thinking you’re not good enough, but the other thing which you can influence and avoid is what you’re saying then, and if you keep repeating that, in repetition, you can start to believe what you say.

“So it’s important to try and avoid repeating ‘I’m not good enough and I’m making too many mistakes’ over and over and over for the whole weekend.”

Norris faces a stern challenge to recover into the top 10 and score points in Mexico, as he prepares to launch from P18 ahead of only Logan Sargeant and Yuki Tsunoda, the latter dropping to the back of the grid after taking a new power unit for his AlphaTauri.

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