Too harsh? Norris’s U-turn on key McLaren error explained

Lando Norris believes McLaren squandered a potential Canadian Grand Prix win in the Formula 1 World Championship, believing it was down to a poorly judged strategy rather than bad luck.

Norris lost the race lead when his rivals stopped under the first safety car, one lap before Norris was able to do so.

That safety car – called to recover Logan Sargeant's stricken Williams – was deployed as soon as Norris approached the final chicane, which is located next to the pit lane entrance.

He was unable to start from the lead but Max Verstappen and George Russell did so behind him and eventually jumped him when Norris pitted one lap later.

Initially, after the race, Norris compared it to the timing in Miami where he took advantage and jumped on Verstappen to take the lead which he was to hold until the end of the race: “I had amazing speed but then the safety car stopped me.

“Just like it helped me in Miami, now it's brought me back again. Honestly, I thought it was a pretty perfect race on my part, but I was a little bit unlucky.”

But just over half an hour into the post-race press conference, Norris changed his mind and felt McLaren had missed out on a second win in 2024.

“We simply should have won today,” Norris said. “We didn't do a good enough job as a boxing team when we should have done that and not been behind the safety car.”

“I don't think it was a fluke or bad luck thing. I don't think it was like Miami. This was just the wrong move, so it's on me and the team and we'll discuss it.” after.

“We should have won today. We are at a level now where we are not satisfied with second place. The goal is to win and we did not do that. It is very disappointing.”

Norris believes the recent decision to keep him out longer on the intermediates before switching to slicks was the right one as it “helped me have a chance against George”, who he eventually beat to second place, but he felt the damage had already been done.

“I had enough time to box and we didn't box, so that was a mistake on our part as a team,” Norris said of the timing of the first stoppage.

“It's just something we haven't done a good enough job of.”

Very tough?

Norris is right that the situation is very different from Miami. There Red Bull had already brought on Verstappen, so was helpless when McLaren used the safety car to stop Norris.

But if you look at where Norris was on track at the time the safety car was deployed in Montreal, you will see that he was about to brake for the chicane when the safety car message appeared on the trackside panels.

So, had it not been for a very sudden split-second decision, it would have been very difficult to perform maintenance at that time. This could have led to a slow stop scenario if the team was not expecting it and would have lost more time.

Norris' change of heart was likely caused by McLaren not anticipating the timing of the safety car. There was an appropriate period of time between Sargeant stopping (at a place where if he did not rejoin, the Safety Car would be almost guaranteed) and the Safety Car being called.

So McLaren could have called in Norris for new intermediate compounds and pre-empted the safety car.

But even this is a somewhat harsh reading of the situation. Easy to say in hindsight, yes, but he did not want to unnecessarily give up his position on the track that Norris had raced and won so well earlier in the race.

In theory, there was a better strategy on the table, but it wouldn't have been a huge mistake for McLaren to kick themselves hard. As Norris says, the new reality that McLaren expects to challenge every weekend makes these near-misses even more painful.


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