Norris admits he was “caught sleeping” on Lap 1 but Russell ‘paid heavy price'

Lando Norris admits he was “caught sleeping” when George Russell overtook him on the opening lap of the F1 Sao Paulo Grand Prix sprint race.
Lando Norris (GBR) McLaren MCL60 and George Russell (GBR) Mercedes AMG F1 W14 battle for position. Formula 1 World
Lando Norris (GBR) McLaren MCL60 and George Russell (GBR) Mercedes AMG F1…

The McLaren driver started on pole but lost the lead to a fast-starting Max Verstappen, who secured the inside line for Turn 1 before easing to a comfortable victory in the sixth and final sprint race of the season. 

Norris slipped back to third on the first lap when Russell dived down the inside at Turn 10, though he was able to re-pass his fellow countryman to regain second on lap five. 

“I’ll have to re-watch it, I’m not sure what happened,” Norris said of his start. “My reaction was good, but then the second phase was not good. That’s all I know for now. 

“Tough opening lap I would say, not what I wanted, and then it was difficult to manage the tyres as much as you would want when you are in second. But it was still a good race, still good fun. 

(L to R): Lando Norris (GBR) McLaren MCL60 and Max Verstappen (NLD) Red Bull Racing RB19 lead at the start of Sprint.
(L to R): Lando Norris (GBR) McLaren MCL60 and Max Verstappen (NLD) Red…

“I was caught sleeping a little bit with George. He was pushing a lot on the opening couple of laps and I felt like maybe he paid the price quite heavily on lap three and four and five and six and seven and eight… All the way to the end. 

“But I tried then to get into DRS of Max. I thought if I could get the opportunity I would try it early on, so I could try and control the race out front in some cleaner air, but never quite got close enough.

“Struggled a little bit too much in the last five laps of the race to look after the tyres as much as what Max was able to do. Nevertheless, a strong race and good points.”

While Norris was disappointed not to be able to challenge Verstappen for the win, he was happy to take the positives from a race that was ultimately dictated by tyre management. 

“I was managing in qualifying already,” Norris laughed. “These are the tyres from quali right.

“It’s a tough circuit, you don’t feel like you can push anywhere. It’s kind of always a little bit like this but it feels a little bit like COTA in a way. You do two laps and after that you have no grip and are managing. Again, a management-based race.

“But positives. This wasn’t a circuit we were expecting to be close to the Red Bulls. If you look at our data from last year and where we were good and bad, this definitely wasn’t up there with one of the good ones. 

“Sometimes we are good in quali and quite poor in the race. But today we were good compared to everyone, except Max. So tough but a good day for us.”

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