Although Lando Norris was celebrating another career podium after the FORMULA 1 GRAND PRIX DE MONACO 2021 it could have been a very different story had the Brit put a wheel out of place following his black and white flag warning for cutting the chicane after just seven laps.
With Red Bull Racing’s Sergio Perez hunting him down in the final third of the race, Norris could be heard asking for radio silence to give himself the ability to put 100% concentration into the job at hand, as a penalty would have given him a five-second penalty, costing him a podium spot…
Time To Concentrate
Although he was brief on the radio, the moment served to show the composure and experience the youngster has gained, as well as the confidence he has in his own abilities to get the job done under pressure.
‘There’s a new rule for this weekend. In the chicane, if you missed the chicane you get a warning and to be honest I only like missed the first apex part, like the first part of the right and I still still went to the left of the second one and lost time in both, both times I locked up there, but I think by about lap seven I had used both my opportunities to go off the track.
‘It made my engineer Will extremely nervous and I’m sure it made certain other people very nervous too. So not an ideal start to the race, especially because I knew there were many more laps to go and the final stint, when you can be pushing more, if I made one more mistake and went off I would have a five-second penalty and Pérez would be ahead of me.
‘So yeah, I guess I was pushing a bit and doing a lot of fuel-saving at certain times and just slightly misjudged it and I missed the apex and I got my warning. And in the end I was telling Will to be quiet, because sometimes you just want to focus on what you need to be doing, just driving around the streets of Monaco and you just want to be in your zone, in that way of just driving round, missing the barriers, just feeling confident and not having to think of any other things. So, when he’s telling me there’s a guy 20 seconds ahead, it’s not something I cared too much about and I just wanted to concentrate on driving. Simple as that.’
Podium Finish Exceeds Expectations
When McLaren arrived in Monaco, they weren’t expecting a podium finish, assuming Mercedes and Red Bull would be ahead of them on a circuit that is almost impossible to overtake on. But when Mercedes had a rare disastrous day out, Norris was there to pounce.
‘Yeah, it’s been a pretty crazy weekend. I think we came into it with not many expectations, not many expectations at all, but it turned into probably one of our best weekends altogether – bar maybe Imola.
‘The car’s been pretty good to drive, I’ve had a lot of confidence, I’ve felt very comfortable and I think that showed yesterday with probably an alright package, not quite there yet compared to these guys – but with that confidence to push the car in qualifying, to be only two-tenths off was a pretty cool achievement for us, even though it was still P5.
‘To then be there, make the most of other people’s mistakes, Bottas’s one with their pit stop, to grab a podium too, so it’s been a cool weekend, especially here in Monaco. It’s even more special than any other track. I’ll cherish it – I’m just hoping there’s plenty more of them and we can do that at other tracks, because I think that’s going to be the harder thing to do.’
Battling With Sergio Perez
As the laps ticked down, Sergio Perez was a raging bull, chasing down Norris in the McLaren. With Norris on the harder tyres that just weren’t working for him, it made for a nervy finish, but the Brit managed to stay the course and retain his composure to score a memorable podium in Monaco.
‘The first stint we were pretty competitive. Pretty similar on pace to what Carlos was doing – and Bottas and Max. Maybe Max was slightly ahead – but I could see on the TV screens when I was going past what lap times Max was doing in the lead and I wasn’t that far behind.
‘I was like, ‘OK, this is going well’. As soon as we put the Hard tyre on, yeah, it kind of turned to the opposite. It was a very hard car to drive. Much easier to lock-up and snatch the front, worse over the bumps and so on. Not a lot of confidence and, as soon as I heard where Sergio was in terms of his tyre strategy, how much later he boxed, I got pretty worried but I kept it on the black stuff, which is the most important, didn’t hit any walls, and as long as you are good out of the last corner and out of Turn 8, and you cover those two places well, he’s not going to pass. So, it wasn’t too bad,’ concluded Norris.