Lando Norris believes that he could have been on the front row of the grid for Saturday’s sprint race at the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix had he not made his mistake at the end of qualifying.
For the fourth time in succession and the 19th time since they have been team-mates, Norris out-qualified Daniel Ricciardo in Italy to secure third behind polesitter Max Verstappen and Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc.
He might well have encroached in that battle between the top two, but he lost control of his McLaren for the third time this weekend at Acqua Minerale, bringing out the red flag and ending the session.
The Briton completed two consecutive runs at the beginning of Q3, so he explained that he had to keep back some of the power for the second run that he would have ordinarily used over one lap.
When he deployed full power on a one-lap run though, he made the crucial error.
“I would have liked to have got that last lap in because we didn’t do a lap where we were at full power with a full battery,” he told Sky Sports.
“The lap I did at the beginning of Q3 was a ‘two-consecutive’ and when you do two consecutive, you have to split the battery 50-50 per cent.
“So if I managed to get a lap at the end which was 100 per cent battery, there was a good three-four tenths left in it.”
That sort of improvement would not have got him pole – he was 1.2 seconds adrift of Verstappen after an emphatic lap from the Dutchman – but it could have seen him leapfrog the championship leader and qualify in P2.
“I’m sure Charles would have improved as well but if he didn’t and had of made a mistake then I could have got him,” he lamented.
“There was maybe that little chance to do even better and score a second-place today but it didn’t happen because of the mistake I made at the end so I have to be happy enough with third.
“Honestly, it’s a very good result for us so I’m taking it.”
As for the car, the 22-year-old confirmed that all is well after his relatively light collision with the wall, and he will be good to start P3 on Saturday.
“Somehow it’s fine. It’s a shame it ended like that but a good position for tomorrow,” he added.
Norris managed a podium finish at last year’s race in Imola, and for now at least, has put himself in a good position to potentially score another podium in Italy.