Saudi Arabia F1 Grand Prix 2023
A salty Lando Norris believes he could have ‘pretty easily’ held off Oscar Piastri had he not been ordered to let his young Australian team-mate pass in the closing laps of the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix.
With three laps to go on the 50-lap course around the Jeddah Corniche circuit, Norris was ordered to let Piastri pass, although the Australian was on an older rubber of almost 20 laps which was a compound slower than that of Norris.
Piastri even managed to overtake Logan Sargeant’s Williams to finish 15th. Norris would return 17th.
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Speaking to Sky Sports after the race, Norris said he could have gotten the Williams, despite being behind Sargeant for five laps.
“I could have easily held the position at the end and passed the Williams (of Logan Sargeant) but yeah, I just let him go at the end,” Norris said.
“It would be different if I was fighting for the points, but 16th and 17th doesn’t really matter.”
With Piastri set to start the race from eighth after a “brilliant” performance in qualifying, hopes were high of a points finish for the team, which suffered a double DNF in the race. opening in Bahrain.
But those hopes were dashed when Piastri made contact with Pierre Gasly’s Alpine on the exit of the second corner, virtually destroying his front wing.
He was forced to pit at the end of the lap for a new nose and hard tyres, and fell straight to the back of the pack.
Two laps later, Norris – who had started on the back line – was also in the lane for the same fix. The team will later confirm that his front wing was damaged when the young Briton hit a large piece of debris on the opening lap.
Since no one else suffered damage on the first lap, one can only assume that the debris came from Piastri’s car.
Norris came out of the pits about four seconds behind Piastri. They would race back until a safety car was called on lap 18 to pick up Lance Stroll’s struggling Aston Martin.
Although Piastri remained on track under the safety car, Norris was pitted for fresh medium rubber. After the restart, Piastri was ordered to let Norris pass to attack the cars ahead.
But Norris was unable to make an impression, and was told to let Piastri – who had been on the same set of tires since that first lap pit stop – pass with three laps to go.
McLaren remains anchored at the bottom of the constructors’ championship after two races.
The F1 circus will meet again in Melbourne on Friday week for the Australian Grand Prix.
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