Lando Norris is confident his Q3 appearance for McLaren at the Australian Grand Prix will not prove to be a one-off in the 2019 Formula 1 season.

The 19-year-old F1 rookie was one of the stars of qualifying on his grand prix weekend debut for McLaren, as he followed up a strong performance in Q1 and Q2 to claim eighth on the grid in Melbourne

Having ended up 1.818s off the pace of polesitter Lewis Hamilton, Norris said McLaren’s qualifying showing verifies the progress made by the Woking squad over the winter as it looks to bounce back from a torrid 2018 campaign. 

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“I enjoyed it to a point but I was so nervous that took away a lot of the enjoyment,” Norris explained. “But the enjoyment comes once I completed a lap I was happy with and obviously I’m happy for the whole team. 

“That’s what makes me happy, is knowing how hard the team has worked and that it has all come together for qualifying. I did enjoy it a lot and happy to get it off my chest.” 

Asked if he had expectations of reaching Q3 heading into the session, Norris replied: “No it was quite the opposite. I had done three runs and used three sets of softs in Q1. 

“Our aim was just to try and get into Q2 and that went pretty well. Then I did my Q2 lap and got into Q3. For now I’m very happy but I’ve got a long job ahead of me tomorrow. 

“I think it just shows that it is possible to do it and it shows that we have in some ways moved forward from last year,” he added. “Not as much as we need to but I feel like I really maximised everything. 

“I have a long race ahead of me tomorrow and we have a lot of work ahead to maintain these Q3s. Today is not a one off but they are not going to happen all the time so I will enjoy it.” 

It proved to be a contrasting day of fortunes at McLaren as teammate Carlos Sainz Jr. was knocked out in Q1. 

The Spaniard had been set to improve but was forced to back out of his final flying lap having encountered a slow-moving Robert Kubica - who had picked up a puncture on his Williams - in the final sector.

“It was very strong today,” Sainz said. “I was happy with the car and my first run. 

“We were improving a lot, good enough for the top 10 or top eight, but suddenly I found Robert [Kubica] with a punctured car. 

“There was nothing he could have done differently, it was just the wrong moment at the wrong time and I had to back off in the last sector and lost three or four tenths.

“It hurts because we’ve been fast the whole weekend. It had been a clean run until the most important run of the whole weekend in Q1.”

 

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