McLaren assure Lando Norris ‘no need to apologise’ after Chinese GP Sprint fumble

Thomas Maher
Lando Norris, McLaren, 2024 Chinese Grand Prix Sprint.

Lando Norris fought Lewis Hamilton through the opening corner of the 2024 Chinese Grand Prix Sprint.

McLaren boss Andrea Stella said Lando Norris has no need to apologise over his disastrous start to the Chinese Grand Prix Sprint.

Norris was the polesitter for the Chinese Grand Prix Sprint but wound up down in seventh on the first lap after a costly mistake through the first corners of the race.

Andrea Stella: Don’t worry Lando, you haven’t disappointed the team

Norris’ reaction time off the starting grid was slightly slower than Lewis Hamilton’s alongside, meaning the Mercedes driver was in a better position as the field swooped into Turn 1.

Norris tried to hang his McLaren around the outside of the long right-hander in a bid to get back into a stronger position for the following left-hander but, lacking grip on the outside, slid wide – falling down to seventh in the process.

Taken out of contention almost immediately, Norris went on to finish in sixth ahead of teammate Oscar Piastri – McLaren having hedged their bets by starting Piastri on used tyres.

With Norris getting on the radio to apologise for his misjudgement of the start, team boss Andrea Stella said there was absolutely no need for the British driver to have done so.

“Certainly, he doesn’t need to apologise because we need his apologies,” Stella told Sky F1.

“But he knows that he could have done better. But we appreciate the maximum effort. We work as a team and also I think this just gives us a sense of the kind of person he is, he feels, I’m sure, like ‘I’ve disappointed the team’.

“Don’t worry Lando, you haven’t disappointed the team – we need to give you a better car and then all things will become much easier, rather than always being on the limit to bring home some important results. So it’s more up to us, and the men and women at McLaren are working hard to improve the car.” recommends

Chinese GP: Max Verstappen pounces on Lewis Hamilton mistake to win the Sprint

2024 Chinese Grand Prix – Sprint race results (Shanghai)

Explaining the incident from his perspective, Stella said he believed victory would have eluded Norris during the race regardless – such was the pace of eventual winner Max Verstappen.

“Definitely off the line, we lost all the advantage of the grid position,” Stella said.

“So these eight metres [advantage] went, which meant going side by side into Turn 1. There is a possibility of using a wider line in Turn 1 but I think, with the dirty track, Lando was surprised and he went off the track. So I think that was the key point.

“Actually, I think we could have held the second position had we kept a good position at the start because I think we were faster than Hamilton overall.

“I don’t think we could have beaten Verstappen, so I think the maximum result and potential today was actually second place. So, for the victory, it looks like we have to wait to upgrade the car a little bit more.”

Lando Norris: Our race pace was shocking

Speaking to Sky F1 himself after the race, Norris said it had been a difficult Sprint due to the race pace shown by several of his rivals.

“Yeah, no chance. Maybe I could have been one or two positions higher, but that was it, I think,” he said.

“Mercedes had a very good pace today, George was catching up quite quickly and Lewis had a good pace as well, and then the Red Bulls and even the Ferraris, honestly.

“I was managing to survive just because of the DRS. If I didn’t have DRS, I was long gone behind all of them.

“Our race pace was pretty shocking today, which we kind of expected with just how the track is and just the limitations we have on the car. So yeah, nothing new.”

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