Lando Norris was left to rue his “first big mistake” in qualifying this season that has put him on the back foot for the Sakhir Grand Prix.
The 21-year-old Briton had a nightmare at the end of Q2 as he went out for his final run earlier than his rivals and aborted his first flying lap, before having another go which he also terminated by heading back into the pits when he realised he would not improve his time.
It meant the McLaren driver will start the race down in 15th position, just behind Antonio Giovinazzi’s Alfa Romeo and seven places adrift of his team-mate Carlos Sainz – who will initially have the task of fighting the Racing Points and Renaults in the quest to defend the team’s third position in the constructors’ World Championship standings.
Norris out in Q2 after aborting his final run 😩
The Briton will line up P15 in Sakhir#BahrainGP 🇧🇭 #F1 pic.twitter.com/prPRwGLQEz
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“It needs to be a weekend when I don’t make any mistakes and today I made one – or WE made one a little bit,” said Norris, who had voiced his feelings over the team radio.
“I think we went out at the wrong time. To make up for that I had to do a very slow out-lap, which ended up being too slow and the tyres going out of the right window which meant they weren’t in for turn one.
“It was just a messy run, which was a little bit on my behalf and a little bit as the team. But I still got a lap and the second one was on me and I didn’t do a good enough job then, so I was a bit frustrated by that and annoyed with myself.
“It’s the first big mistake I’ve made all year in terms of qualifying so I’m not happy about that, but it happens sometimes and I just need to do a better one tomorrow.”
Taking place on a shorter configuration of the Bahrain International Circuit, the race will be staged over 87 laps and could be chaotic even though some drivers have suggested that overtaking will be difficult.
“I hope it’s a crazy race for my sake,” said Norris, who has contributed one more than Sainz of McLaren’s total of 171 points this season.
“It’s a lot of laps, still not an easy track to overtake on – maybe not as obvious as it looks from outside and people are split by hundredths-of-a-second difference, so it’s not going to be easy tomorrow. But I’ll have chances and that’s the plan.”
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