Lando Norris feared he was about to crash his car en route to the starting grid for the German Grand Prix on Sunday after testing out the slippery drag strip that caught a number of drivers out in the race.

Norris started 19th at Hockenheim before being forced to retire early on due to an engine issue, but almost didn't make it that far after nearly sliding off the track when he tested out the drag strip on the exit of Turn 16. Norris did so after watching an onboard video of Fernando Alonso using the surface on his pole lap at the track in 2012.

Carlos Sainz, Charles Leclerc, Lewis Hamilton and Nico Hulkenberg all had off-track moments at Turn 16 during the race, with Norris saying it calling the lack of grip on the drag strip "stupid".

"I did it on my laps to the grid, because we had an onboard that we had to watch, the one magic lap from Fernando when he was with Ferrari, and he goes two wheels over the kerb, onto the drag strip, and everything looks fine," Norris explained.

"I did my lap to the grid, I tried it, and I genuinely thought I was going to be out of the race before I even started. I put the clutch in, full opposite lock - I’m not exaggerating - I shat myself! I was like 'oh shit this is not going to be good!' Because the guys were waiting there to put me up on the jacks and put me in my positions, and I had the biggest fright of my life.

"From my side I knew that straightaway. Obviously I’m not going to tell anyone, because I’ll let them try it out, but every person that made a small mistake, just lost the rear or understeered a bit into the last two corners went onto the drag strip, and it’s like you accelerate. Nothing you can do.

"It’s probably quite dangerous to be honest because you don’t slow down. There’s tarmac run-off there as you’re approaching at a decent speed, and as soon as you hit it, you can’t do anything, no point braking even. It’s something that I think needs to be changed for next time."

While McLaren teammate Carlos Sainz was able to pick up 10 points for finishing fifth, Norris believed the team had lacked the pace of chief midfield rival Renault in Germany, acting as a wake-up call in the battle for P4 in the constructors' championship.

"This weekend was pretty tough. As good as it looked at times and with P5 as a result, our pace wasn’t that strong, so we’ve got a lot of work to do I think," Norris said.

"A lot of others brought upgrades and made some decent steps ahead of us. No matter what, even if we’re quick or slow, it’s still going to be tough, but at the moment we don’t look like we have as strong as a car as we’ve had in the last few races."

 

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