The Briton recovered from an early setback when he lost track time with an unscheduled stop after reporting that something had come “loose” by his elbow to take a surprise second place during the soft tyre runs. 

Norris was just 0.257s adrift of the benchmark time set by Red Bull’s Sergio Perez to round off a positive afternoon for McLaren after it had ended up behind chief rival Ferrari in FP1. 

“It was like a good day in terms of result and pace, but not like easy to achieve that,” Norris said. 

“Difficult just because of the wind and the bumps and the conditions, it just makes it very tricky out there. 

“Even with the set-up, the first couple of runs I struggled quite a bit but then the final run I made some changes and I was much happier with the car and I could push on it more and then the lap time came easier.

“So I think we’re in a good place, because I feel like we can quite easily make some changes into tomorrow to give myself some more confidence and confidence is lap time a lot of the time. So a decent first day, and look forward to the rest.”

COTA’s bumpy surface and high track temperatures made conditions tricky for the drivers, with Norris seen getting away with a big lock-up into the final sequence of corners during FP2. 

Asked what had caused his dramatic-looking lock ups, Norris replied: "That was just me being an idiot, braking on the kerb which you just never do. 

“It’s not slippery - it’s just a kerb’s a kerb - I was braking… Rule number one is don’t brake on a kerb, so just me being stupid.”

And Norris is expecting tyre degradation to play a major factor in Sunday’s race, with high temperatures forecast. 

“It’s tough because there is just a lot of degradation and you can still be fast but with a lot of degradation because everyone is struggling with a similar thing just because of the temperature and the track surface and so on,” he said of his long runs. 

“It’s not easy, you kind of want to do the same lap times all the time and when you see you’re slowly degging off it doesn’t feel good, but sometimes that’s just the way it is. 

“So it’s interesting and probably going to make for a good race on Sunday - who can keep the tyres in a good condition.”