Lando Norris’ recovery to fifth place in the Mexico City Grand Prix was one of the best races that McLaren team principal Andrea Stella has ever seen.
A scrappy Q1 led to Norris being eliminated in that first part of qualifying and facing a tough race on a track that is tough to overtake on given the cooling requirements the cars face at altitude. Despite Norris having to take the red flag restart in 10th and dropping to 14th, he then fought through to an impressive fifth with multiple eye-catching overtakes.
“We were having exactly this conversation on the pit wall as his race engineer Will Joseph turned to me and said to me ‘that’s one of the best of Lando’,” Stella said. “I said, ‘Will, that’s one of the best at all’.
“Overtaking, so many overtakes, in Mexico, where (on Saturday) if you read the quotes everyone is saying it’s so difficult to overtake, while managing PU temperatures, having to do lift and cost. I’m just impressed. One of the best races for a driver that I’ve been part of.”
Given the fact Stella has worked with both Michael Schumacher and Fernando Alonso, it was high praise from the Italian.
“Yeah, this race made me think of Valencia 2012, where at the time we started 12th (with Alonso), we won the race. But this one… on one side we are excited, having seen this kind of masterpiece, on the other side like Lando said on the in-lap, ‘guys let’s do a good job on Saturday and we can fight for podiums’, so the pace was there to fight for podiums.”
Despite the impressive Sunday recovery, Stella admits the run of form McLaren has been on means the outright pace suggests an opportunity for another top three result was missed.
“That’s what I’m trying to say, there’s a little element of frustration, but at the same time if you asked me (after qualifying) I would not have thought we could overtake so many cars.
“So I’d rather take the positives out of this race and I hope that the entire team at the factory and the fans receive the same sort of message: we are there, we don’t give up, we are competitive, but we need to do a better job overall the whole race weekend.”