Home Sport McLaren and Lando Norris ‘tyred’ of excuses

McLaren and Lando Norris ‘tyred’ of excuses

95

We look at three things we learned from Sunday’s roller-coaster race at Silverstone.

As Lando Norris finished third behind Mercedes’ seven-time champion and Red Bull’s series leader Max Verstappen, his team chief conceded that tactical blunders had cost him a shot at a dream home win. Picture: Ton Roelofs, DPPI via AFP

Seven days after lamenting the failings of others in Austria, McLaren boss Andrea Stella was left admitting his own team’s mistakes in the wake of Lewis Hamilton’s long-awaited and emotional triumph at the British Grand Prix on Sunday.

As Lando Norris finished third behind Mercedes’ seven-time champion and Red Bull’s series leader Max Verstappen, his team chief conceded that tactical blunders had cost him a shot at a dream home win, confirming how open this year’s scrap for the championship has become.

After 12 of the scheduled 24 races, there have been six different winners with only Verstappen showing any real consistency even as Mercedes and McLaren appear to match Red Bull in performance – an enticing prospect for the second half.

Here, we look at three things we learned from Sunday’s roller-coaster race at Silverstone.

Costly tactical mistakes

The errors in strategy and decision-making that undid the hopes of Charles Leclerc, Sergio Perez and Lando Norris on Sunday demonstrated how important consistent and reliable teamwork may be in dictating the championships.

Ferrari’s Leclerc finished a distant 14th after an untimely early switch to intermediate tyres resulted in him falling to the back of the field and being lapped – the team having misread the weather.

“I was told the rain was going to be heavy so I stopped, but the rain came eight laps later, so that was it, the end of our race,” he said.

“Another weekend to forget. It happens a lot – it’s very hard. I don’t have the words to explain it, but it’s been four races that have been worse than a nightmare.”

It was a similar disaster for Red Bull’s Perez who, after starting from the pit lane, also stopped too early for intermediates. He finished 17th and having failed to score points, was warned about his future.

“He knows it’s unsustainable to be not scoring points,” said team boss Christian Horner. “He knows his role and target. We’re acutely aware that to win the constructors’ championship you need both cars scoring.”

Norris, who led the race convincingly for a spell, was undone in similar fashion by poor pit-wall decisions, boss Stella admitted after a delayed switch to soft tyres, when mediums were available, ruined his hopes.

“This is another one in which if I can do the race again I will pit at the same time as Hamilton and Verstappen,” said Stella who, a week earlier, blamed Verstappen’s aggression and the FIA’s inertia for Norris’s race-ending collision with the Dutchman.

“Pitting one lap later gives you the possibility to observe what your competitors do and I think going on soft wasn’t the right call for us. We degraded the tyres too much … We got it wrong.”

As a result of Sunday’s incident, and error-filled race, the consistent Verstappen extended his lead over Norris to 84 points with Leclerc 21 adrift in third while Red Bull, despite Perez’s sequence of flops – his best result in six outings was seventh in Austria – stay 71 clear of Ferrari in the teams’ title race with McLaren closing to within seven points of the Italians in third.

Mercedes back in business

Back-to-back victories in Austria and Britain, aided by a slice of fortune, cannot disguise the return of Mercedes as a competitive force at the midway point in the 2024 world championship or the value of experience.

Russell was unable to convert pole position into a win in Canada, but profited in Austria when Verstappen collided with Norris to secure his second career win – and then took pole but retired with water pressure problems on Sunday.

That handed an opportunity to Hamilton who showed flawless judgement of the conditions and the race to secure his record 104th win – and to confirm that the silver arrows are back in business.

Guile worth more than gilt

Nico Hulkenberg’s impressive drive to take sixth place for Ferrari customers Haas, having out performed both ‘factory’ Ferrari cars in qualifying, earned deserved plaudits for his courage, precision and speed.

At 36, he is regarded by many as the most underrated driver on the grid and living proof for his relatively underfunded team, compared to Ferrari, that guile is worth more than gold.

AFP

Previous articleFormer MEC for Education appointed as premier’s political adviser
Next articleRamokgopa says focus must shift to distribution network as generation capacity improves