Lando Norris Left Red-Faced as Lewis Hamilton & Fernando Alonso Expose McLaren’s Achilles’ Heel

Published 08/29/2023, 6:15 AM EDT

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Lando Norris and McLaren, faced a reality check during the Dutch Grand Prix as the race unraveled what might be McLaren‘s primary weakness. It all seemed hunky dory after a stellar performance during the qualifying rounds, hopes were high for Norris & Co. The British driver showcased immense skill, even challenging for the pole position. Although post that when the race day dawned with unpredictable weather, it all unraveled for the Orange team.

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Lando Norris got a deja vu from the 2021 Russian GP with changeable conditions as a decision to stay out for an extra lap at the onset of heavy rain proved to be Norris’s undoing. This decision enabled competitors like Lewis Hamilton and Fernando Alonso, who made timely switches to intermediate tires, to overtake him.

Drawing comparisons post the race, Norris remarked on McLaren’s pace, If you want to say what was our pace like compared to Aston? It was pretty terrible. Compared to Mercedes pretty terrible so our pace today was a long way off the pace that we showed in qualifying. Our one-lap pace is a lot more competitive than our race pace. I think that’s becoming more and more evident and we’re doing whatever we can to fix it and make steps forward.”

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Even with the challenges, Norris commendably secured a seventh-place finish. Still, he was haunted by a lingering sense of lost potential. As it seems, at times their success is determined by raw speed, while at other moments, it’s the strategy that counts. While they weren’t at their slowest, they also weren’t performing at their peak.

The inconsistency in McLaren’s performance between qualifying rounds and actual race days is not an isolated incident. The team has been grappling with this problem more frequently. Their speed during a single lap is much better than their overall race performance. This problem is becoming more apparent, and despite their best efforts to address it, their current attempts are falling short.

The Dutch Grand Prix might not have been Norris’s day, but it has undeniably shed light on areas that McLaren needs to address. As the season progresses, it will be intriguing to see how the team maneuvers through these challenges.

McLaren’s strategy at Dutch Grand Prix under review leaves Lando Norris frustrated

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As the rain intensified, most teams pitted for intermediate tires. However, McLaren’s decision to keep Norris and teammate Oscar Piastri on soft compounds quickly backfired, pushing them down the grid. Turns out the P2 grid position was no good vs.. the strategy McLaren had in mind.

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Post-race, a candid Norris expressed his displeasure to Sky Sports, highlighting the team’s questionable tire decision and unclear communication. He contrasted his struggles in the race to Lewis Hamilton’s swift overtaking moves, indicating McLaren’s challenges with their car in dirty air.

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Acknowledging the oversight, McLaren team principal, Andrea Stella, said, “With Lando, we hesitated too much at the start before pitting for intermediates.” He praised Piastri’s efforts in challenging conditions but bemoaned a tire lock-up that necessitated an untimely pit stop. Stella remained optimistic, noting the car’s competitiveness, and promised a thorough review ahead of the upcoming Italian race, signaling hope for a better showing at Monza.

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Written by:

Pulkit Jai

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Pulkit is an F1 writer at EssentiallySports. With a strong academic background in engineering, he possesses an in-depth understanding of the intricate mechanics and technology driving Formula 1 racing. This expertise allows him to offer insightful analysis, exploring the technical aspects of the sport and shedding light on the innovative advancements that shape the world of F1.
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Edited by:

Aishwary Gaonkar

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