‘We should have won today’ – Norris on wrong safety car call

Lando Norris says McLaren made the wrong call during an early safety car period in the Canadian Grand Prix that cost him victory after losing a commanding lead in Montreal,

George Russell led the first part of the race in wet conditions but as the track started to dry it was Norris who moved to the front, overtaking both Max Verstappen and then Russell to open up a lead of some 11s prior to a safety car after Logan Sargeant crashed. Initially, Norris viewed the timing of the interruption as simply unlucky, saying, “Just like it helped me in Miami, it’s now had me back over.” But he later stated there was time for him to make a pit stop if the team chose.

“We should have won the race today and we didn’t,” Norris said. “So frustrating, we had the pace, probably not in the dry at the end. It turned out it didn’t really matter too much. We should have won today, simple as that. We didn’t do a good job I think, a good enough job as a team to box when we should have done and not get stuck behind the safety car.


“I don’t think it was a luck or unlucky kind of thing. I don’t think it was the same as Miami. This was just making a wrong call, so it’s on me and it’s on the team and it’s something we’ll discuss after. We should have won today.

“I think we’re at a level now where we’re not satisfied with the second. The target is to win and we didn’t do that. So frustrating. A tough race and still to end up in second when it could always finish and could be worse is still a good result.”

Norris clarified it was only the timing of the first pit stop that annoyed him, when McLaren left him out an extra lap and Verstappen and Russell jumped ahead of him by stopping immediately under safety car. A later attempt to take the lead by running long on intermediates fell just short as he emerged slightly ahead of Verstappen on slicks but was unable to accelerate on the wet part of track and lost out, but that was a move he was still happy with.

“No, staying out on the intermediate helped me,” he said. “It helped me have a chance against George, so I overcut him. I didn’t do a good enough job afterwards and he was clearly way quicker than us in the dry and even on the hard tires.

“That was completely the right call and a good decision from us to stay out. It gave me a lot of lap time and it’s not the timing of the first safety car — I had enough time to box and we didn’t box, so this was a mistake on us as a team. Just something we didn’t do a good enough job with.”

The McLaren driver also felt he was slightly to blame for his lack of an opportunity to retain the lead during that second pit stop phase, as he could have been more aggressive in the laps prior to Verstappen and Russell pitting ahead of him.

“It takes a lap, two laps to warm up the tires, so yes, I overcut him and I overcut George, but you need a lap or two to warm up the tires. You’re always going to have an overcut type of race in that situation because a cold slick is not going to be as good as the inter at the end of the stint. That didn’t gain me or lose me anything, the little slide, and it was completely wet on the slick tire. … But we were too far behind Max in the first place.

“I probably pushed too late on that inter tire in the middle stint. It’s why we stayed out because I was so quick at the end of that stint, but I probably just didn’t push early enough. I probably could have got past George basically one or two laps before the pit stops and close the gap to Max to give myself a better opportunity of undercutting or overcutting him, and we didn’t do that. That’s more of a hindsight thing and something I wouldn’t change. I think we made the right call there, but that was all.”

Story originally appeared on Racer