Lando Norris endured a miserable Belgian Grand Prix, after being stuck in a DRS train led by Williams Racing’s Alex Albon.
Norris started the race from P17 following a grid penalty for a new power unit, and eventually crossed the line in P12 at Spa-Francorchamps.
The Brit was clearly struggling during the race, after switching between six different strategies during the race to try and get past Albon.
Norris made his way all the way through to ‘Plan G’ but was refused it by the team as the request came too late in the race.
The 22-year-old hailed the race as a “tough one”, after explaining that the slipstream is less effective this season with the new regulations.
“I would say so. It was a tough one, but I think I all weekend kind of expected it,” Norris told Sky Sports F1.
“Just with the cars this year, the slipstream is so much less, so where you normally have a slipstream all the way to the final chicane and get close, we just don’t really have that anymore.
“It wasn’t just that, just the track grip was extremely poor today because of the wind or whatever, and just getting a good run out of Turn 1 for the back straight was pretty much impossible – I was wheelspinning in third or fourth gear.
“I don’t think we had the pace really to do a lot more. Maybe in clean air we could have done, but just too difficult to pass, as expected really. It was a tough day, we tried, but couldn’t do a lot more.”
It was somewhat incredible to hear Norris and his team switch the strategy so many times, with the Brit’s MCL36 having poor straight-line speed during the race.
This made overtaking incredibly difficult and near enough impossible, especially given the fact that Albon’s FW44 was ridiculously fast down the straights without the assistance of a slipstream nor DRS.
“It’s the most we’ve ever had, we don’t normally plan that much,” said Norris of ‘Plan G’.
“But I think there were just a lot of different scenarios that could have happened today – one stop, two stops, three stops, different tyre scenarios and strategies.
“It was more that I just wanted to try something different. I was stuck at the end, I could catch them so quickly, over a second a lap, two seconds a lap. You get there and you are just stuck, just can’t do a lot.
“Mainly because Alex [Albon] is so quick on the straights. Even when Lance [Stroll] had a good run out of [Turn] 1, he still couldn’t pass him and I’m just in the DRS train behind not able to do a lot.
“Fair play to Alex, he held on for pretty much the whole race I think to like 10 cars. At least he got a point – he was rewarded for it, fair play to him. It’s just too difficult to overtake.
“I guess we kind of paid the price of the engine penalty. I know [Charles] Leclerc had come through and Max [Verstappen] somehow won by 17.8 seconds, but they are just a different league and we are racing cars we are a similar pace to, that I was maybe one or two tenths quicker than yesterday.
“So you need a lot more than that in a race situation to get past and that’s just not what we have.”
The race was just as frustrating on the other side of the McLaren garage, as Daniel Ricciardo finished P15 despite having started seventh.
The Australian driver made a good start, but lost places as a result of avoiding Sir Lewis Hamilton, after the Brit crawled around the circuit following a collision with Fernando Alonso on the opening lap.
Ricciardo also suffered from shocking straight-line speed during the race, resulting in the 33-year-old being easily overtaken on Albon’s journey to a points finish.
The Aussie was frustrated with the result, which was affected by not having his preferred rear-wing.
“We started there and I was able to get Albon at the start, and then it was a bit of a mess with Alonso and Lewis,” said Ricciardo.
“I was trying to go here and there and obviously Lewis was nursing the issue. I kind of got a bit…whatever, in that situation, and Seb [Vettel] got me.
“We still had Albon, which we thought was kind of a critical one, but a couple of laps later he sailed past on the straight. I think while his tyres were fresh they could use the straight-line speed and make the gains they needed to.
“We were just too slow on the straight, that was the biggest thing. A little bit unfortunate because after the issue yesterday it’s not the wing we wanted to run when we were forced to, and we knew today it would probably hurt us.
“I think in clear air we were quicker, but we never had clear air because if I had it I didn’t have a slipstream, someone would pass me, and if I was right behind someone, even with DRS we couldn’t make an overtake. Pretty long old day.”