Lando Norris has admitted that his and Oscar Piastri’s shock Q1 elimination on Saturday morning at the Las Vegas Grand Prix is a “reality check” for McLaren, but one he’d rather have this season than next.
Since the start of the weekend in Sin City, McLaren have just not looked capable of fighting towards the front, something they’ve done with ease at almost every round since the Austrian Grand Prix mid-season.
From the get-go, it looked like making it to Q3 would be a challenge for the Woking-based team; however, a double Q1 elimination in qualifying certainly wasn’t expected.
Norris could only salvage P16 in the first part of qualifying but was just 0.02s off making the top-15 and progressing to Q2.
Piastri was further behind in a disappointing 19th, with the rookie having been almost two-tenths of a second down on the lap-time he needed for a place in the second part of qualifying.
Whilst they qualified 16th and 19th, Norris and Piastri will actually start from P15 and P18 provisionally, due to a five-place grid penalty for Lance Stroll.
With Fernando Alonso having made it to Q3, McLaren have some work to do on Saturday evening in LAs Vegas to ensure that Aston Martin don’t claw back too many points, in the fight for fourth in the Constructors’ Championship.
The Silverstone-based outfit have demonstrated better pace than McLaren all weekend, meaning making progress could be difficult for Norris and Piastri.
There is still so much unknown about how the race will unfold, although one thing that is for certain, is that the MCL60 just hasn’t “been performing where we’ve been the last few weeks”.
Norris has described the situation as a “reality check” but a good one to have before 2024.
“I mean not great, because I got knocked out,” Norris told the official F1 website in the media pen, when asked about the car’s pace and his feelings.
“The pace of the car was where we are to be honest, it’s where we’ve been all weekend. We’ve been a long way off the pace, but I’d say we’re where we expected to be honestly.
“It’s been a tough weekend, just the car’s not been performing where we’ve been the last few weeks. Of course, I guess that’s disappointing but at the same time, since our first few laps we already knew we weren’t going to be very quick.
“In a way it’s not a great thing, but it’s a good thing that it’s given us a reality check I would say. I’d rather have that this year, rather than next year if that makes sense.
“So, yeah, not what we wanted but kind of what we were expecting.”