‘Messed up’ – Ralf Schumacher explains how Lando Norris and McLaren lost the Spanish GP

Michelle Foster
Red Bull driver Max Verstappen and McLaren driver Lando Norris talk after 2024 Spanish Grand Prix qualifying.

Red Bull's Max Verstappen and McLaren's Lando Norris.

Taking the chequered flag two seconds down on Max Verstappen in Spain, Ralf Schumacher says Lando Norris and McLaren “messed up” his chances of winning.

Although Norris lined up on pole position at the Spanish Grand Prix having out-qualified Verstappen by 0.02s, he had to settle for second place in the Grand Prix.

Lando Norris ‘messed’ up the start declares Ralf Schumacher

Norris made a good launch off the line before moving to the right side of the track to cover Verstappen. That, however, opened the door for George Russell.

P4 on the grid, the Mercedes driver used the tow in the long run down to Turn 1 to power up to the back of Norris and Verstappen before swooping past them both, having been given the entire left half of the track to pick his line.

Third in the early running, McLaren opted for a long first stint to give Norris fresher tyres and create the option for a set of softs for his very last stint.

But having to pass rival drivers before it was just him and Verstappen in the race for the victory, Norris fell 2.2s short at the line.

Schumacher reckons Norris’ start and McLaren’s wait to change tyres cost the Briton a second F1 Grand Prix win.

“First and foremost,” said the Sky Deutschland pundit.

“Lando Norris messed up the race because he lost the start, but the gap he had to close could have been avoided if he had come in earlier. Then he could have set his pace and started chasing.”

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Lando Norris: As soon as you make one mistake…

But it’s not just Schumacher who reckons Norris didn’t get it right on the start as the McLaren driver agrees.

“I am happy with 99 per cent of things,” Norris said. “It’s just the 1% – which is a big part of it – wasn’t enough.

“Two metres I lost out in the beginning and this was enough for Max to be on the inside. If George wasn’t on the outside I could have covered him, but George got a good start and got a perfect slipstream, nothing I can do about that.

“As soon as you make one mistake, they are going to be ahead.

“I got a bad start, simple as that, and then I just couldn’t get past George.

“The car was incredible and we were for sure the quickest, I just lost it at the beginning. Lots of positives, one negative and I know that. I can work on it for next time.”

However, his team boss Andrea Stella downplayed Norris’ “bad” start as he felt it was a decent one, it was just Russell getting the “double slipstream” that changed the storyline.

“The fact he is self-critical is a style,” Stella said. “And sometimes we react on the style and not on the content.

“Lando’s start was not bad at all. It was a decent start. He was almost one car ahead of Max but the fact is Russell got the double slipstream of Lando and Max and in corner one Lando was just very wise. A second and your race is gone and we want to stay in the race.

“It’s more in the detail. Very marginal.

“We don’t overreact to the style of Lando being tough with himself. I am sure it is something he will keep fine-tuning over the years.

“Lando just drove very well the entire weekend and if he is upset for a P2 being two seconds from Max then this is really good news for everyone, including F1. Because it means that we have races where with little details, like defending your pole position, we finally can have some different winners than Max.”

Norris’ P2 in Spain elevated the driver to second in the standings where he is 69 points down on Verstappen. It is, however, a first Drivers’ Championship P2 for the McLaren driver.

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