Lando Norris on standout F1 moment: ‘It still blows my mind’

Lando Norris' P3 in Imola is McLaren's only podium of the season so far.

McLaren’s Lando Norris is still unsure how he managed a podium finish at the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix in his underperforming car.

Norris took advantage of Mercedes’ nightmare of a day and a crash for Carlos Sainz to take third in qualifying in Imola, before falling back to fifth in the sprint race.

The Briton climbed back up to fourth when Carlos Sainz was wiped out of the race at the start by Daniel Ricciardo, before watching on as Charles Leclerc made a mistake that sent him down to sixth.

It was the 22-year-old sixth podium in Formula 1, but the best he has managed since then was sixth, which he managed in Monaco and his home British Grand Prix.

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Generally, the MCL36, though it has been improving since the woeful performance in Bahrain, has not been blessed with podium pace, nor is it the standout midfield leader.

The British side have been surpassed by Alpine in recent races for fourth in the Constructors’ Standings, with the French side beginning to establish themselves as the best of the rest.

Only four points separate them though, so it is very tight in the battle behind Red Bull, Ferrari and Mercedes, but Norris affirms that the car is realistically not good enough to be challenging for the rostrum positions.

“I still don’t know how I got a podium with the car that we had,” he told Autosport.

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“It still blows my mind, considering how much quicker a lot of the other cars were, like now, when I think of it, I think it’s probably one of my best podiums.

“[In] wet qualifying, it was a pretty awesome lap in quali, but when you see the speed of the Alfa Romeo, it was like, half a second a lap quicker than me in the race. 

“If we did a race of just pure pace, I’d probably be like 15th or something, but I finished on the podium.”

However, the top-three appearance vindicated the work McLaren have been doing since Bahrain, and it was a sign that they are moving back in the right direction.

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“It makes it that bit better, it was good to see that we made some improvements, we were going in the right direction,” explained Norris.

“And that always gives you more motivation, more hope, and it’s something you look forward to in the future. 

“That was definitely a good thing, and just good to see that we could turn things around fairly quickly.”

Norris has finished in the points 11 times so far this campaign, but team-mate Daniel Ricciardo has had it a little rougher, appearing in the top 10 just four times.