Norris: We didn't expect this result

Norris: We didn’t expect this result

Norris: We didn't expect this result

Lando Norris admitted he did not expect to finish on the podium at the 2023 United States Grand Prix, as he wasn’t confident his McLaren would perform around the Circuit of the Americas.

But despite not having a strong Sprint (he was fourth) the Briton went on to deliver a decent performance, qualifying second for the grand prix and finishing third which became second after Lewis Hamilton was disqualified, his Mercedes failing the post-race FIA scrutineering.

Norris shot to the lead at the start of the race, overtaking polesitter Charles Leclerc, but in the end couldn’t fend off Max Verstappen who was scything through the field, and later had to concede his second place to Hamilton who was on fresher tyres.

Nevertheless, the McLaren star was content and told Sky Sports F1 after the race: “I’m very pleased. If before the weekend you said we had the result we have had…I wouldn’t have not believed it, but we didn’t expect it in a way.

“I’m very happy. From leading a race to Lap 25 or 30 almost, you are always like, ‘could I have done a little bit more’. But when you see how much I struggled compared to Lewis, how many let’s say setbacks he had – two very bad pit stops, I had two very good pit stops. I didn’t have to go through the field.

“I could control it and execute a perfect race and we still didn’t have the pace, so not a surprise. I think we have known it all weekend that we had not quite what we wanted to compete against them,” he maintained.

Later in McLaren’s post race report, Norris added: “We’re getting there. We’re making progress every weekend, just a few more steps needed.

“To finish on the podium here was better than we were expecting coming into the weekend. So overall, very happy,” the 23-year-old concluded.

McLaren Team Principal Andrea Stella commented: “Another strong result for McLaren, which makes it four podiums in a row. It came in a race where we tried to go for the victory.

“We pushed hard with Lando and potentially paid a price in terms of consistency in the stints, but this doesn’t change the final result. It’s encouraging to be competitive in a track that we didn’t expect to suit our package,” he added.

A DNF for the other McLaren car

On the other side of the McLaren garage, Oscar Piastri stumbled after the highs of Qatar where he won the Sprint Race, as he struggled all weekend for pace, never close to Norris, and to make matters worse, he retired from the race after sustaining damage from a first lap contact with Alpine’s Esteban Ocon, who also retired.

Piastri said: “It’s a shame to have had to retire the car after only 10 laps. We had a good start and made up a few places but had a water leak that unfortunately ended our race.

“It’s not been the easiest weekend, but there’s been a lot of learnings. We took a step forward from yesterday and did improve but not to the level I want to be at.

“These are character building weekends that are very important in my first season, so we’ll take from it what we can and bounce back in Mexico next week,” the Australian rookie reckoned.

Stella explained Piastri’s retirement, he said: “It’s a real shame what happened on Oscar’s side, because we could have finished with really strong points.

“Unfortunately, his race ended after making contact on Lap 1, damaging the cooling system and causing the engine to overheat. Before that he’d made great progress through the field.

“Up to that point, despite damage to the car, the pace today was much better, so we are pleased with the improvement we have been able to make on Oscar’s side and we will bounce back in Mexico,” the Italian concluded.

Another positive for McLaren from Austin, is that they have snatched fourth place in the 2023 Formula 1 Constructors’ Standings from Aston Martin, whom they now lead by six points.