In China, McLaren and Lando Norris defied the odds to everyone's surprise

Having struggled with the pace since the start of the weekend, McLaren was the revelation of this Chinese Grand Prix with a very good Lando Norris, still on the podium.

Published on 21/04/2024 à 17:48

Gonzalo Forbes

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In China, McLaren and Lando Norris defied the odds to everyone's surprise

A 15th trophy for Lando Norris who did not expect to have it in his hands. © Florent Gooden / DPPI

When it was time to debrief the day on Saturday, the clan McLaren was hardly optimistic for the Grand Prix this Sunday. It must be said that the MCL38, rather efficient on a fast lap with the 4e and 5e places of Lando Norris et Oscar piastri in qualifying, suffered over time. A lack of rhythm which made the weekend team fear the worst in view of the real race.

« 4th and 5th places are a good starting point for tomorrow's race (Sunday), with the hope of scoring important points, explained team principal Andrea Stella on Saturday evening. At the same time, we saw during the Sprint that the challenge becomes more difficult to meet on a race relay. We need to improve this, and we have already made some adjustments between the Sprint and qualifying. We'll see if they prove useful. »

Norris saw himself quickly leaving Shanghai

The Oranges therefore expected to suffer and undoubtedly to fight for points in the soft underbelly of the Top 10. Obviously a question of survival for them this Sunday. But to everyone's surprise, there was no suffering in the Woking ranks. On the contrary.

Surprisingly in good shape during the first part of the race, Lando Norris even allowed his team to shift their strategy. While the entire grid initially opted for two stops, the Englishman received the green light from his wall to make only one, as the pace of his MCL38 was impressive. Everything came together so well that the child from Bristol was even able to dive into the pit lane under a virtual safety car, limiting the loss of time.

In the end, McLaren, who expected a Sunday in hell, sailed on a cloud and was even able to stand up to the Red Bull, depriving the Austrians of a fourth double this year.

« I'm surprised, very happy, happy for the team too, they deserved it with a good pit stop, he confided with a smile that he had difficulty hiding after his 2nd place. Everything worked today (Sunday), I do not know how. I didn't expect to experience this kind of race. But in the end I felt comfortable, with good tire management being a much easier task compared to yesterday (Saturday, during the Sprint Race). I just had to push and I felt very good in the car. Good day, good points, and another podium so I'm happy.

I was surprised by several things, the lack of rhythm of the Ferrari, our good pace, but also ours compared to that of the Red Bulls. This is especially what was surprising. I did not expect that. I had prepared everything to go home early and not be present on the podium (Laughs). It's a nice surprise but it shows that the team is doing a good job. We work hard and it's paying off."

Lando Norris was able to spray the Red Bull drivers. © DPPI

On the podium for 15e time in his career, Lando Norris later admitted to making an internal bet about how far behind the Ferraris he would finish. “ I bet on 35 seconds but I was damn wrong, he jokes. Happy to be wrong with myself and fail my bet."

In the end, McLaren left Shanghai with its best result of the year despite never having been as pessimistic since the start of the season as this weekend. A good omen for the future? It's up to the Oranges to confirm the deal in two weeks on the Miami side.

Little by little, Lando Norris distanced himself from Ferrari. © Paulo Maria / DPPI

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Gonzalo Forbes

In charge of promotion formulas (F2, F3, FRECA, F4...). Carried by the grace of Franco Colapinto.

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