Zak Brown suggests Oscar Piastri should’ve been closer to Lando Norris

McLaren pairing Lando Norris and Oscar Piastri have looked relatively evenly matched so far this season.

McLaren’s Lando Norris has revealed his surprise after securing a third-place finish in qualifying at the Barcelona track, with the circuit proving perfectly suited to the McLaren setup.

McLaren has faced its fair share of struggles throughout the current season, but Norris managed to pull off one of the biggest surprises in qualifying, finishing in third place, just half a second behind the pole-sitter, Max Verstappen.

Expressing his astonishment at his own qualifying performance, Norris acknowledged that the high-speed corners at the Barcelona circuit played to the strengths of his car.

“I’m surprised to be here, but amazing job, P3. Almost P2, but it’s a home race for Carlos, so I thought I would give him a couple of tenths,” Norris told Sky Sports.

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“Very happy with P3; it was nice the whole of qualifying we were quite quick. All good.

“It seems to be good for us. I would say I like it. It’s one of our strengths, the high-speed corners. I’m very happy, difficult qualifying but always in these conditions, the tricky ones, we seem to do well. It seems to suit me.”

Although cautious about getting carried away with Norris’ qualifying result, McLaren boss Zak Brown admitted that this performance could mark a turning point for the team’s fortunes. 

“I think we’re definitely further ahead than we’d have anticipated,” Brown said. 

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“I think it shows how close Formula 1 is now.

“You’re almost routinely having teams that are in Q3, then in the next week they’re Q1 and vice versa, so I think that’s exciting for the future of Formula 1 as the rules kind of settle down and our car I think likes the cooler temperatures, so hopefully, this weather will transfer over to tomorrow.

“Let’s see what [our] race pace looks like and not get too excited about qualifying. It does take a race or two to get them [upgrades] dialled in. Then of course, Baku is a sprint race so you have a little less time.

“So hopefully this is the start of good things to come, but as I mentioned earlier, it’s so tight in the field, who knows what happens in Montreal. Andrea [Stella] and the team are doing a great job and of course, we’ve got some additional people joining the team in the not too distant future, so there’s some light in the end of the tunnel.”

In addition to Norris’ impressive performance, McLaren’s Oscar Piastri secured a tenth-place starting position for the race on Sunday. 

Brown revealed that Piastri could have achieved an even higher grid position if not for a mishap during his final qualifying lap.

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“He [Piastri] had a mistake in his final sector,” Brown said. 

“His first couple sectors were right on top of Lando as he was pretty much every session. Hence, I think we maybe could’ve gone a little bit quicker there but I’ll take two cars in Q3, that’s for sure.”