McLaren team boss opens up on ‘spiralling’ Lando Norris

Andrea Stella, the McLaren team principal, has spoken out after Lando Norris finished in seventh place at the Belgian GP.

McLaren team boss Andrea Stella has spoken about Lando Norris’ disappointing seventh-placed grid finish at the Belgian GP.

The British driver had secured back-to-back second-place podium finishes before this result.

Norris came behind Max Verstappen in both the Hungarian and British GPs, running the Dutchman close at Silverstone.

It was a victory in itself that Norris finished in the top ten at Spa-Francorchamps, following a dismal start to the race.

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He faced a challenging opening stint, which McLaren – and his teammate Oscar Piastri – had been vocal about before the Belgian GP.

McLaren said that new upgrades on their cars had not yet been optimised and that this could cause a major problem.

Piastri had even called for the race to be called off if there was a large amount of rain; the Australian racer ended up with a DNF result.

He collided with Carlos Sainz in the opening lap, leaving it up to Norris to salvage something for McLaren.

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However, Norris had a severe lack of straight-line speed which saw him plummet from sixth to being outside of the points.

Seeing that Norris was struggling badly, the McLaren team hauled him off on Lap 5 to fit on a hard tyre.

Unfortunately, this move backfired as he struggled for pace over the next 12 laps, falling to dead last – before McLaren tried something unusual.

McLaren’s ‘hail mary’ was to fit Norris’ car with soft tyres as rain pounded on the tracks – this gave the chance to maximise his middle-sector grip advantage.

The British driver sliced his way back up the field, spending roughly 60% of the race using soft tyres.

F1 pundits said Norris achieved a ‘Herculean’ task to salvage seventh place at the Belgian GP, given the difficult circumstances.

However, team boss Andrea Stella believed that a large part of Norris’ problem in the opening stint was psychological.

He claimed that the Brit was “spiralling” negatively as he complained about his lack of pace on the straights.

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Stella stated: “We were expecting the vulnerability but, indeed, when we were in the mix of the other cars, he was starting to spiral negatively, quite rapidly.

“While this configuration gave us an advantage in the previous days, [Sunday] it was starting to be a significant issue.

“Then we didn’t help ourselves, in a way, by trying to give Lando free air and fitting hard tyres.”