Norris’ F1 China sprint pole lap down to «all or nothing» approach

Norris had his penultimate timed lap deleted for track limits at Turn 16, but his 1m57.940s follow-up ultimately proved unbeatable during a wet and slippery final part of sprint qualifying — which yielded multiple mistakes across the field.

This lap was initially chalked off for track limits as well, suspected to be a result of Norris going off at the final corner of the previous lap, but it was successfully demonstrated that he lost time at the start of that lap and he had it reinstated.

Norris explained that he had to continue pressing on despite the treacherous conditions, as tyre temperature was vital to finding any purchase on a recently resurfaced Shanghai circuit.

«It was tricky,» Norris reflected after the session. «You’re always nervous going into a session like this, especially for quali when you know it’s going to rain. I know I was quite happy with how it was in the dry; I think we have had good pace all weekend so far.

«So I got a bit nervous but the conditions were you have just got to risk a lot, you have got to push, build tyre temperature and so forth.

«But I was quick, I just kept catching the Ferrari, so I had to keep backing off. I didn’t do the first few two laps like well at all and I got a good final one: a good enough one for pole. So I’m happy. Sad it is not for proper qualifying, but good enough.

«The first two I aborted on both, so I was like: the last lap was all or nothing. But it’s getting wetter and wetter. So actually the conditions for the final two laps were a lot worse than the second lap at least.

Lando Norris, McLaren MCL38

Lando Norris, McLaren MCL38

Photo by: Mark Sutton

«I was a little bit nervous that I made a few mistakes, started to aquaplane quite a bit. But it’s good fun. It gets your heart going. To end up on top is exactly what we wanted.»

Norris explained that he had «not a clue» what to expect in Saturday’s sprint, especially given the minimal practice on offer during a sprint weekend.

He felt that if further rain emerged, then McLaren would be in a good position, but that the team had managed to hone in on a decent setup for all weathers despite tentative expectations to struggle in China.

«We did some of our homework this morning; we did some consecutive laps to try and understand but depends what the weather is. There’s still a chance of rain tomorrow.

«If it’s like this then I think the chances are relatively decent. But the race is still very different to qualifying.

«I’m sure everyone’s going to catch up a bit tomorrow. But the pace is good whether it’s wet or dry and I think we’re in a good position. It’s a bit of a surprise, but I’m very happy the team have done a good job, the car is feeling good. And so am I. And it’s paying off.»

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