Lando Norris had a strong qualifying session ahead of the 2022 French Grand Prix and will be starting the main race from fifth, ahead of George Russell and behind the other Mercedes of Lewis Hamilton. The McLaren driver admitted that he was surprised to have qualified higher than a Mercedes although their pace through Q1 and Q2 was not really at par with the top teams.
As reported by Motorsport, Lando Norris revealed that he did not expect to be challenging the Silver Arrows in France. He said:
“Very surprised, actually. I mean, after the pace in Q1 and Q2, I guess not as surprised. If you asked me before qualifying were do you think you would be, it definitely wouldn’t be competing with them.’’
“Put it down to two things: one the car performing very well, and obviously working well. But also to it being a very good lap, and I would say there was probably one mistake, a little bit of wheelspin out of Turn 9. But apart from that it was a very strong lap from myself. So I think that was the thing which put us ahead of one of the Mercedes.’’
McLaren happy with Lando Norris and Daniel Ricciardo's French GP Qualifying
With both drivers starting the French Grand Prix in the top ten, McLaren team principal Andreas Seidl is confident that the team has the potential to beat both Mercedes drivers this weekend.
Speaking to Sky Sports F1, Seidl admitted that given Mercedes' struggles in the free practice sessions, McLaren went into qualifying with the intention of monetizing on its rival's weaknesses. He said:
“Really happy with the outcome of qualifying today, and the entire team back home has put in so much energy to bring these upgrades to the track. We could see already yesterday that it was looking positive and that we have taken a step, and again overnight we took a step with the drivers extracting the max from the package.’’
“Now we need to see how it looks over the long run, but starting P5 and P9 is good. What we have seen in Free Practice is Mercedes struggling a bit, so we went into qualifying thinking that there might be a chance to beat one or two of them.’’
Lando Norris could potentially work towards his second podium of the season this weekend to give McLaren some much-needed momentum.