McLaren strategy flaw identified giving Lando Norris “big disadvantage” in Japan

Did McLaren make two crucial mistakes with Lando Norris' strategy in Japan?

(L to R): Lando Norris (GBR) McLaren with William Joseph (GBR) McLaren Race Engineer on the grid. Formula 1 World
(L to R): Lando Norris (GBR) McLaren with William Joseph (GBR) McLaren…

Sky Sports F1 pundit Bernie Collins has identified a significant flaw with McLaren’s strategy at the Japanese Grand Prix.

Despite starting third on the grid, Lando Norris was beaten by both Ferrari drivers at Suzuka.

While Ferrari seemed to have the edge on race performance, Norris lost out to Charles Leclerc, who was on the unfavourable one-stop strategy.

Weirdly, McLaren's decision for Norris to stop on the same lap as Leclerc meant the British driver had no tyre advantage to get back ahead.

Norris has already questioned McLaren’s strategy choices at Suzuka, stating that it’s going to be something that’s going to be discussed in the post-weekend briefing.

Analysing McLaren’s strategy at Suzuka, Collins felt while they were right to put Norris on a two-stopper, the timing of the stops was the issue.

“Lando was very honest in thinking they stopped too early,” she said. “He’s got to feel disappointed to lose to Charles who was significantly further back.

“[Andrea] Stella said two stops didn’t make a difference. I think that’s correct. But what did make the difference was Lando stopped four laps earlier than Sainz on the first stop, then 10 laps earlier on the second stop.

“In a race where we’re talking about significant deg, to do 10 extra laps on the final set is a big disadvantage in terms of total race time. It would have lost significant race time.

Lando Norris (GBR) McLaren MCL38. Formula 1 World Championship, Rd 4, Japanese Grand Prix, Suzuka, Japan, Race Day. -
Lando Norris (GBR) McLaren MCL38. Formula 1 World Championship, Rd 4,…

“A lot of the 10 seconds would have been lost through suboptimal pit stops. They will have to look at the race that Ferrari did - when they chose to do pit stops, not covering Russell, then trying to overtake later. It was significant in terms of overall race time.”

McLaren boss Andrea Stella believes that Norris lost out to the Ferraris on raw performance, rather than strategy.

“There were no issues. The final classification is on the pace competitiveness order, he explained.

“We tried to go for the podium by stopping early, making sure we could hold position ahead of Carlos, and attacking Perez.

“Ultimately there wasn’t enough pace in the car. That’s fair enough. It’s a reflection of our competitiveness at this stage of the season. Good work by Charles and Ferrari making a one-stop possible.

“It wasn’t possible for us. And anyhow, it wasn’t the fastest strategy. Good for Ferrari to keep the tyres for so long. But it wasn’t about one-stop or two. It was about genuine car pace.”

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