One of the teams usually expected to be around the sharp end of the grid was knocked out in the first part of qualifying in Las Vegas.
McLaren’s two drivers will line up in the bottom quarter of the grid for Saturday night’s race in Las Vegas, with both Oscar Piastri and Lando Norris knocked out in Q1 after a tough session for their drivers.
Neither driver was able to set a lap time sufficiently quick enough to break into the top 15 as needed, with Lance Stroll delivering the killer blow at the chequered flag as the Canadian put in a time to demote Norris down to 16th.
McLaren suffers double elimination in Las Vegas qualifying disaster
Norris’ best time of 1:34.703 meant the British driver finished 16th, with Piastri down in 19th with a time 0.147 slower than his teammate on the same compound.
This meant the team, who occupy fourth in the Constructors’ Championship, now have to look over their shoulder at Aston Martin as the Silverstone-based team are just 21 points behind with two races remaining.
McLaren boss Zak Brown was audibly deflated as he spoke to Sky F1 following the qualifying shock.
“Yeah, very disappointed,” Brown said.
“We thought we’d struggle this weekend but I didn’t think either car would be out in Q1. So not a good start to the weekend. All we can now do is focus on the race tomorrow.”
Asked why he had had the impression his cars wouldn’t be fast around Las Vegas, Brown admitted the car’s strengths don’t play to the characteristics of the circuit.
“We know the slow-speed corners aren’t our strength,” he said.
“We’re… not bad, but not great on these long straights and where we are strongest – high-speed and medium-speed corners – this circuit doesn’t have many.
“So our low downforce setup has struggled over the course of the season. It’s not a great time with how close we are in the championship to have both cars out in Q1, but let’s see what happens tomorrow. The race could be a bit dramatic.”