McLaren respond to Lando Norris missed Canada GP win frustration in Mercedes admission

Jamie Woodhouse
Lando Norris, McLaren, follows George Russell, Mercedes, at the 2024 Canadian Grand Prix.

Lando Norris, McLaren, follows George Russell, Mercedes.

While Lando Norris feels that McLaren left a win on the table in Canada, team boss Andrea Stella, who admits the safety car timing was unfortunate, also highlighted a pace deficit to Mercedes in expressing satisfaction with the result.

After passing Red Bull’s Max Verstappen and Mercedes’ George Russell for the race lead before escaping into the distance, a pivotal point for Norris in the victory battle arrived when Logan Sargeant spun out at the exit of Turn 6, triggering the safety car.

McLaren admit Mercedes faster in Canadian GP dry stint

Norris stopped the lap after Russell and Verstappen, despite Norris revealing that he did have time to also dive into the pit lane upon the safety car deployment, but they opted against it.

McLaren team principal Stella, speaking to media after the race, confirmed that it could have been done, admitting that Norris got unlucky with the safety car timing having returned to the race now P3.

“We took a quick look, it looks like he was one and a half seconds from the pit, from the time actually where you needed to turn or you’ll go in straight,” said Stella.

“In hindsight, we could have told the driver in case of safety car, pit, so he would have just reacted instinctively to just pit.

“But we were monitoring the intensity of the rain and this intensity in the last few minutes was kind of reducing. So, we didn’t want to pit unnecessarily for a new set of inters when this set of inters could have been good enough in case of very light rain.

“I think it was much easier for the car behind to kind of do the opposite, for instance, as Lando. I think that’s a little bit unlucky, not only with the timing of when the safety car was deployed, with respect to Lando’s position on track, but also the time of the safety car in the race, because at that time, Lando was by far the fastest car.”

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Norris would later try the overcut as the track dried and emerged from the pit lane neck and neck with Verstappen on slick tyres, but with his Pirelli rubber in the working window, Verstappen secured the lead and went on to win the Canadian Grand Prix, Norris winning out in a subsequent battle with Russell to claim P2.

A frustrated Norris said “we should have won today, it’s as simple as that”, but with Stella arguing that “Mercedes should have finished ahead” of Norris on pace in that final dry stint, the fact that they did not means the team are happy with the result.

Put to him that the disappointment not to have won is testament to the team’s progress, Stella replied: “Yeah, I think you’re right.

“This sort of little disappointment for a victory that was possible today is actually testament of the fact that the team has come a long way and we are now regular podium contenders or at times even victory contenders.

“At the same time, I look at the positives and there are many, like certainly the team has been consistent in being competitive, despite the variation of track conditions and so on, which is something that you never can give for granted and you don’t gain any credit because you’ve been like this in the past. Every race weekend you have to gain your money.

“So ultimately, we ideally should make the car a little bit faster, and then be in condition to chase the victory independent of the conditions on track or the track characteristics.

“Because today, we have to say that when we were in dry conditions, Mercedes was faster than us. So we’re still not in a position where we can gain the victory out of outright performance.

“I think Mercedes should have finished ahead of Lando today.

“So if anything, we maximised what was available after the safety car. Without the safety car, then I think Lando could have accumulated such a large advantage that then we could have tried to make it to the end on the dry tyres.

“But I think Mercedes, they could have caught up, because they were a few tenths of a second faster than us today. So we really needed a decent advantage to make it safely to the end.

“But obviously, this is a little bit academic, because in a race like this, two or three safety cars, you have to assume that will happen.

“And also the weather was around, so we knew that it was going to be a race decided by various scenarios. And ultimately, I think we are happy with the result today.”

Norris has now made the podium four times in his last five races, including that first F1 victory in Miami.

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