Lando Norris openly admitted after Sunday’s Spanish Grand Prix that McLaren are “clearly nowhere near” the pace of the top-five teams, with the Briton having endured a miserable afternoon at the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya.
Qualifying on Saturday was the complete opposite of miserable as Norris secured a shock second row start, as a result of having qualified third.
The Briton was actually remarkably close to beating Carlos Sainz for P2, only for a small error in the second sector to end his chances.
Despite this, he was incredibly upbeat after Saturday’s main session and joked that Max Verstappen will hopefully not “hold me up”, something which certainly didn’t happen.
“You never know, the pace could be mega and I could catch Max and overtake him,” said Norris.
“Hopefully he doesn’t hold me up like in Monaco, but we’ll see! It’s a new day, we didn’t expect to be as good [in qualifying] as we were and, like Carlos said, we’re on the clean side of the grid. I let him have this one because I want to make it out of the track alive!”
Norris tumbled from third to last on the opening lap following contact with Lewis Hamilton at Turn 2, with the 23-year-old having clipped the Mercedes driver.
It was simply nothing more than a racing incident; however, Norris was then unable to recover following an early pit-stop for fresh tyres and a new front wing.
He ultimately brought his car home in a disappointing P17, with his pace having been poor, something he “expected”.
“The pace was as expected today, which was bad,” he told reporters in the media pen.
“I don’t think we expected anything else really. Our aim was to maybe finish in the points, but we weren’t expecting anything like yesterday.
“Because we’re slow, we have been all year. I don’t know, there’s nothing else to say. Yesterday was a special day. Some good teams struggled a lot and some of the worse teams did a better job, so it was just an odd day, people making a lot of mistakes and we just capitalised on that.
“Apart from that, we’ve been off the pace all season, struggling to finish in the points in half the races. And today was just that again. There was the expectation that we would have had a very difficult day today. We’re clearly nowhere near as quick as Alpine, Aston or all of these top-five, top-six teams.”