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McLaren: Confident we can perform well in qualifying

McLaren were again superior to their engine supplier Renault during the first free practice of the Styrian Grand Prix weekend, with both Lando Norris and Carlos Sainz looking good for Q3 in qualifying at Red Bull Ring tomorrow.

Sainz ended the day fastest of the pair, his best effort of 1:04.333 popped him into fifth on the timing screens, with Norris, a couple of tenths slower, in eighth.

This is what they had to say on Friday evening:

Carlos Sainz: “Repeating the same track for the second consecutive weekend helped us to compare a few set-ups. I tried a few experimental changes to get on top of the balance issues I had last weekend. Some of them were positive, others not so much, so we still need to keep analysing going into the weekend. It’s a bit of a special Friday because of the risk of qualifying being cancelled tomorrow. Many drivers went out on new tyres and tried to put a good lap-time in just in case. We’ll see what the weather brings, but it could get interesting!”

Lando Norris: “I had a difficult day with a few setbacks. I didn’t complete as many laps as we would’ve liked to because of a couple of problems, but the car still feels good and I think we have decent pace. I think a few other teams have stepped it up a little bit more and extracted more than we could since last weekend.

“But we’re still in a good place heading into tomorrow and Sunday. The car feels nice and that gives me good confidence, but the conditions are looking like they’ll change for Saturday and Sunday, so we’ve got to be ready for that.”

Andrea Stella, Racing Director: “We had good performance and a good result last weekend, but what we also learned is that the competition is incredibly tight and we need to find every last millisecond of improvement in the MCL35, both for qualifying and race pace.

“So, back on track at the same venue today, we had a comprehensive programme of testing experiments, comprising aerodynamic work, tyres and set-up items. The car ran well, we got through the programme, and this evening, both here in Austria and back at the MTC.

“The task is to take as much knowledge as we can out of the data to improve the car overnight. The only negative note was a grid penalty for Lando, but we’re confident we can perform well in qualifying – whenever that may be.”