Formula 1 Racing

Why Norris feels his attacking style is hurting him in F1 qualifying

Lando Norris, McLaren F1 Team

With McLaren locked in a tight battle behind Red Bull with Ferrari, Mercedes and Aston Martin, grid positions have become increasingly critical in deciding the outcome on race day.

Norris has confessed that qualifying is the area of a race weekend that he isn’t especially happy with, and suggested the need for a change of approach to help McLaren hit its targets in 2024.

Having felt that he was on top of things with the previous generation of cars that were replaced by the current breed of ground effect machines and bigger tyres in 2022, Norris says he’s found it more difficult to deliver his full potential in qualifying.

Whereas before he could go into full attack mode to extract peak performance over a single lap, Norris finds that being so bold now results in the car getting loose and shedding laptime.

Speaking ahead of the Japanese Grand Prix about the issues he is facing, Norris said: “In qualifying, I’ve always been wanting to push quite a bit more in certain areas and kind of want to go out and just be attacking. And I have to do the complete opposite.

“It’s a hard one to get my head around because I want to go out and find another level in qualifying, and you just can’t do that with these tyres and with our car. You almost have to drive it the opposite way.

“So there’s something, almost from being used to the cars a few years ago, that’s kind of punishing me now and not adapting quick enough. But that’s something that’s up to me.

Lando Norris, McLaren F1 Team

Photo by: Simon Galloway / Motorsport Images

“That’s my job to adapt and to do a better job on, but also just with how our car is, how you have to drive it, it continues to be quite a tricky car to drive.

“To execute a perfect qualifying lap every single time, it’s not an easy thing to do. But it’s something we’re working on.”

Norris is no stranger to having qualifying troubles, especially when some wild moments in Q3 laps – like in Abu Dhabi last year – hurt his chances of securing better grid spots.

He says the issues now are more related to the feeling that he needs from the car to understand where its limit is – which isn’t made easy by the fact so much comes from instinct.

“If you ask me now, ‘how do I drive a low-speed corner’, I’ve got no idea, I don’t,” he said.

“One day it’s like this; the next day it is like that. I struggle with just the confidence of knowing exactly how to improve in all cases.

“When it does click,…

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