McLaren reveal reasons behind Lando Norris having to take six pit stops in Bahrain

Henry Valantine
Lando Norris leaves the McLaren pit box. Bahrain March 2023.

Lando Norris heads out of his pit box from one of his six stops during the race. Bahrain March 2023.

McLaren team principal Andrea Stella has revealed a pneumatic pressure leak was the reason why Lando Norris was forced to pit on six different occasions during the Bahrain Grand Prix.

The McLaren driver had started the race just outside the points-paying positions, but was forced into the pit lane on multiple occasions through a gradual loss of pressure in his hydraulic systems, dropping him right to the back of the field and eventually putting him a lap down on his rivals.

Additional reporting by Thomas Maher

Norris himself was unsure as to why he had to stop on so many occasions, but his new team boss was on hand to explain why his MCL60 was not functioning properly throughout the race – with the Briton eventually pulling into his garage two laps from the end to cap off a difficult afternoon for the team, with team-mate Oscar Piastri retiring with an electrical fault on his debut.

“So there was a pneumatic pressure leak on Lando’s car, we discovered this leak relatively soon in the race, and then we knew that it was possible to do only 10 [or] 11 laps each time before having to refill,” Stella revealed to media including PlanetF1.com in Bahrain.

“So we decided to stay in the race, we decided to try and stay at least within one lap from the leader in the last 10 laps and then if there’s a Safety Car, try and see if there’s an opportunity – but it meant that we did six pit stops.”

Things had looked somewhat bleak for McLaren after pre-season testing, having completed the fewest laps of any team after the three days of running and appearing to be off the pace.

But there were more encouraging signs after Norris was able to get to within touching distance of Q3 on Saturday, and even though he had been lapped, he was seen following the battle behind Fernando Alonso and Lewis Hamilton throughout one of his shortened stints – not losing any ground on the Aston Martin and Mercedes drivers.

With that, the McLaren team principal thinks there were positives to bring away from Bahrain, despite the early worries surrounding their form.

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“I think the most positive element today is that without issues, Lando would have been a strong contender for points, the pace of the car in the race was almost beyond expectation,” Stella said.

“I think in the race, we see some reward of the work we did over the winter in trying to improve the interaction between the car and the tyres.

“And this was certainly a strong position on Lando’s side, but also Oscar actually was having good degradation in the first stint, he overtook cars.

“It was a very tight race, so we could have been in the points with two cars. That’s the most positive outcome of this event.”