Lando Norris: McLaren driver 'drunk’ as storm disrupts dramatic qualifying, misses Sao Paulo GP pole | F1 news

McLaren suffered a major disappointment as Lando Norris finished seventh. You can watch Saturday’s Sprint at Sao Paulo GP live on Sky Sports F1, with the Sprint Shootout at 2pm and the Sprint at 6.30pm.

21:11, UK, Friday 03 November 2023

Lando Norris said he had „pretty guts” to qualify seventh for the Sao Paulo Grand Prix, feeling his McLaren was „easily good enough” to secure pole position in Brazil.

Norris established himself as one of the favorites for pole by topping the timesheets in Q2, before conditions took a drastic turn at the start of Q3 as the Interlagos circuit stormed.

World champion Max Verstappen took the goal for Red Bull, while Norris managed to finish seventh as the drivers had time to get a flying lap in before the flood started.

„It was great, honestly, the car was amazing,” Norris said.

„It’s probably easier to go faster today and at the pole. It’s really nice to finish the way we did.

Fernando Alonso comments on the storm that caused the early decision to qualify for the Sao Paulo GP

„I don’t know what to think about it. The car was amazing, it came alive a lot in qualifying and (it was) easy enough to go fast.”

While the timing of the storm seemed particularly unfortunate for Norris, the Brit seemed to hold himself somewhat responsible for failing to add to his career pole position once again.

He added: “Obviously delivering the lap and putting it all together in Q3 is a different job, but easy enough.

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„So another disappointing Saturday, but we couldn’t have done a lot.”

Craig Slater qualified for the Sao Paulo Grand Prix

Piastre: I just skidded right off

He fared even worse, qualifying last in Q3 after his team-mate Oscar Piastre left the track due to deteriorating conditions.

Piastre also showed strong pace earlier in the session, but his hopes of a strong starting position were ended by an incident in 12th place.

Oscar Piastri spins as the rain starts to fall during the final qualifying round of the Sao Paulo GP.

„Losing a lot of grip,” Piastre said.

“I don’t know if it was already raining or what, but I was already struggling a lot in the lap and I think everyone was based on how slow the lap was.

“I went as I thought I did on the last lap and crashed on the straight.

„It’s a shame, the pace of the car was good, but we’ll try again tomorrow.”

Hamilton: Fifth is never the best | 'Chance missed,’ laments Sines

With Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton and Ferrari’s Carlos Sainz both frustrated, Norris and Piastre were not the only drivers disappointed by the sudden climax to qualifying.

Hamilton, looking to end a nearly two-year winless streak, came into the weekend feeling confident about his chances, but failed to qualify for fifth place.

Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton reflects on tough qualifying session in Sao Paulo

„That means the fifth,” he said. „I did the best I could, even if it wasn’t fifth. I hope we can have a great race.

„The car showed signs of decent performance, but we’re usually two-tenths off the top guys.

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„But in the end I think the circumstances, the conditions, may have backed off a little bit more. It’s hard to say.”

Meanwhile, Sainz was frustrated at being one of the last cars sent out on track at the start of Q3 in what was clearly bad weather.

Ferrari drivers Charles Leclerc and Carlos Sainz react after Sao Paulo GP qualifying

„We just got unlucky out there with the weather,” the Spaniard said. “We were one of the last cars out of the pits.

„The cold tires and the temperature dropping, the rain coming, the wind speed – we weren’t lucky today because the pace in Q2 wasn’t too bad.

“We were a bit disappointed that we were too late to go out and we missed an opportunity to put in a good lap.

„I was P8 on the line and I qualified P8. P9 and P10 qualified behind me on the line, so it was clear you were going to be late, and that wasn’t right.”

Saturday 4 November

  • 1.30 pm: Sprint shootout build-up
  • 2pm: Sao Paulo GP Sprint Shootout
  • 5.30 pm: Sprint build-up
  • 6.30pm: SAO PAULO SPRINT
  • 8pm: Ted’s Sprint Notebook

Sunday, November 5

  • 3.30pm: Grand Prix Sunday: Sao Paulo GP Build-up
  • 5pm: Sao Paulo Grand Prix
  • 7pm: Checkered flag: Sao Paulo GB reaction
  • 8pm: Ted’s Notebook

The final of the US triple header and the last sprint weekend of the 2023 season is in F1 Brazil. Watch every session of the Sao Paulo Grand Prix live on Sunday at 5pm on Sky Sports F1. Stream F1 now on Sky Sports

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