McLaren’s Lando Norris admits he ‘let the team down’ with ‘silly’ Q1 mistake

Jamie Woodhouse
Lando Norris exiting the McLaren MCL60. Saudi Arabia, March 2023.

Lando Norris climbing out of the McLaren MCL60 cockpit. Saudi Arabia, March 2023.

Lando Norris was understandably frustrated with himself after a whack of the wall in Jeddah resulted in him becoming a Q1 casualty.

While McLaren may not have the pace in their MCL60 which they desired heading into the season, over a single lap it was proving to be a rather competitive challenger in Jeddah, that underlined by the fact that Oscar Piastri made it into Q3 in the sister McLaren and will start the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix in P8, once Charles Leclerc’s grid penalty takes effect.

Norris believed that he could perhaps have joined his rookie team-mate in that session, or make it into Q2 at the very least, but such hopes were undone for the Brit midway through Q1.

On a push lap Norris would clatter the inside wall of the Jeddah Corniche Circuit, damage to the steering instantly evident as he made his way back to the pits.

It turned out that Norris had broken the front-left steering arm, and so despite frantic efforts from McLaren, the team were unable to get Norris back out onto the track, meaning he will start the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix from the back row of the grid in P19.

And from Norris there was no attempt to make excuses, as he instead openly admitted that he had made a “silly mistake” that let his McLaren team down.

“It was a silly mistake I shouldn’t make, to be honest with you,” Norris told reporters in Jeddah. “Paid the price very quickly, so frustrated.

“I probably should have easily been into Q2, potentially Q3 and I let the team down today, so I’m annoyed.”

Asked if he sustained damage during that smack of the wall, Norris replied: “I damaged the steering, so yeah, enough.”

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Of course the points are handed out on Sunday though, and McLaren will be encouraged after having seen that the MCL60 has the ability to be a leading midfield challenger.

Norris though is not certain that he can make progress through the pack, arguing that this high-speed Jeddah street circuit is not always the easiest of places for making overtakes.

Asked if he can rescue this race weekend on Sunday, Norris said: “I don’t know yet, the potential is there.

“The car has better pace I would say than we had in Bahrain, so I want to be a little bit more hopeful, but it’s probably a harder track to overtake on than Bahrain, so I don’t know what to expect yet.”

McLaren will be looking to record their first finish of the season on Sunday, having suffered a double DNF in Bahrain as Piastri was struck down with an electronic issue, while engine pneumatics issues forced Norris to retire after pitting six times.