Only on a couple of rare occasions this season—during a rain-soaked showdown in Canada and just recently at Spa, complicated by a gearbox penalty—had Lando Norris found himself leading the pack.
When Charles Leclerc took an unscheduled detour into the barriers and Sergio Perez, Max Verstappen’s Red Bull colleague, lagged a whopping 1.313 seconds behind Verstappen’s blistering 1:10.567 lap, it was up to Norris to add an exclamation mark to McLaren’s comeback story. Beating out Mercedes’ George Russell, Norris locked in a second-place finish.
Shortly after popping the champagne—taking into account that Verstappen rarely hands out freebies through errors—Norris had a moment of introspection. He lamented what he termed “one of my most horrendous back halves of a lap ever.” According to him, he started his Q3 lap on fire but fizzled out too quickly.
Norris’ Early Lap Brilliance
The GPS info backs Norris’ claim about the early brilliance of his lap. Out of the 14 corners in the 2.65-mile circuit at Zandvoort, he was outpacing Verstappen up to Turn 7, even finishing the first sector a marginal 0.037 seconds faster.
When it came to the race to the first corner, Verstappen may have entered Turn 1 with a 3.7 mph edge, but Norris blitzed through the apex at a stunning 6.8 mph faster. This thrust him 0.185 seconds ahead. Red Bull made some ground in the higher-speed Turn 2, but the McLaren remained in the lead, albeit by a slim 0.083 seconds.
In the subsequent turns, especially the banked Turn 3, Norris managed to pad his lead, highlighting the advancements McLaren has made in downforce via their three-stage upgrade package.
The Turning Tide: Where Norris Fell Short
However, the Red Bull’s straight-line prowess soon clawed back the lead. Although Norris still led by a hair up to Turn 7, Verstappen overtook him by exiting Turn 7 at a 5 mph higher speed. For the remainder of the Q3 lap, the Red Bull stayed in front, with Norris trailing by an inconspicuous 0.058 seconds as they approached the medium-speed Turn 8.
The McLaren’s chassis, known for its instability in off-throttle situations and long corners, was Norris’s Achilles’ heel. Here, he lagged 0.141 seconds behind Verstappen.
Things took another nose-dive for Norris at Turn 11, where the gap broadened to 0.3 seconds, mainly due to an inadvertent double-shift from third to fifth gear. Verstappen smoothly transitioned to fourth gear and enjoyed a 7.5 mph speed advantage on the sprint to Turn 11.
What Could’ve Been: The Hypothetical Perfect Lap for Norris
Team McLaren, including both boss Andrea Stella and Norris, admitted that even a faultless lap wouldn’t have claimed pole. Verstappen’s RB18 was simply too robust in both downforce and straight-line speed.
However, GPS data suggests Norris left some time on the asphalt—about 0.056 seconds, to be precise. Had he optimized his second sector, he could’ve possibly finished with a time of 1:11.048, reducing Verstappen’s lead to 0.481 seconds. But considering the evolving track conditions, that’s still speculative.
Among Q3 participants with similar two-lap strategies (Verstappen, Russell, and Perez), the average time gain in the middle sector was around 0.237 seconds. Hypothetically, if Norris had matched this improvement, his lap time could’ve been a 1:10.811, shrinking his gap to Verstappen to a more respectable 0.244 seconds.
So, while the pole was probably never in the cards for Norris, there’s a lot to suggest that he left a better lap out there on the Zandvoort tarmac. In the high-octane world of F1, even milliseconds count. Norris, no doubt, will be gunning to claim those lost moments in races to come.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about Lando Norris’ Dutch F1 Lap Analysis
What is the main focus of the article?
Who are the key players discussed in the article?
The key players discussed are Lando Norris from McLaren, Max Verstappen from Red Bull Racing, and to a lesser extent, George Russell from Mercedes and Sergio Perez from Red Bull.
How close was Lando Norris to achieving pole position?
According to the GPS data and analysis, Lando Norris was exceptionally close in the early segments of the lap but lost significant time in the latter half due to a few errors and inherent weaknesses in the McLaren car. Hypothetically, if he had executed a nearly perfect lap, he could have finished just 0.244 seconds behind Max Verstappen.
What factors contributed to Norris falling behind Verstappen?
Several factors contributed to Norris falling behind, including weaknesses in the McLaren chassis during off-throttle situations and long turns, as well as a driver error where Norris accidentally double-shifted from third to fifth gear.
What does the GPS data reveal?
The GPS data reveals that Norris outpaced Verstappen in the early corners and sectors of the Zandvoort track. He was faster through to Turn 7 and even had a first sector that was 0.037 seconds quicker than Verstappen’s.
What improvements has McLaren made to their car?
The article mentions that McLaren has made significant advancements in downforce through their three-stage upgrade package. This was evident in Norris’s performance in the banked turns and early segments of the lap.
Could Norris have won the pole position if he hadn’t made errors?
According to both team McLaren and the GPS data, even a perfect lap from Norris wouldn’t have been enough to snatch the pole position from Verstappen due to the straight-line speed and downforce advantages of the Red Bull car.
Is this article intended for F1 experts or can casual fans benefit from it?
While the article goes into considerable technical detail, it’s crafted in a way that both seasoned F1 aficionados and casual fans can gain insights into the complexities of lap timings and car performance in Formula 1.
More about Lando Norris’ Dutch F1 Lap Analysis
- Formula 1 Official Website
- McLaren F1 Team News
- Max Verstappen’s Career Stats
- Dutch Grand Prix History
- The Science of GPS in Motorsports
- Understanding F1 Lap Timing and Sectors
- George Russell’s 2023 Season
- Sergio Perez and Red Bull Racing
- The Evolution of F1 Car Design
- How Aerodynamics Affect F1 Racing