Lando Norris racked up his third top-five finish in as many races on Sunday, the McLaren driver concluding his Portuguese GP P5 after a “fun but stressful” afternoon of racing at Portimão.
From seventh on the grid, the Briton progressed up to fourth in the early stages of the race, falling down the order after his pitstop before pressing on, executing a couple of bold passes on Alpine’s Esteban Ocon and Sergio Perez, and securing a spot behind the top four leading Mercedes-Red Bull quartet.
Norris reckoned he had done a good job overall, but the McLaren charger also gave credit to his team.
“A very good job, by myself, by the whole team with the pit stops and everything,” he said. “It was as good as we could do.
“The [Mercedes and Red Bulls] were way too far ahead of us today. We tried, and I even got ahead of Perez.
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“If I’d had the pace to stay there, that would have been ideal, but I didn’t so I had to look after my own race, manage my own expectations and know who I’m actually racing against.
“But it was a lot of fun, the first half… the battling, the racing was difficult but what we enjoy.
“The second half was a lot more stressful keeping Charles behind and managing the medium tyres as well, so a race of two halves.”
Perhaps Norris’ main take-away from Sunday’s race was McLaren’s step forward at Portimão since last year, a improvement that he believes bodes well for upcoming races.
“I think the fact we were good here gives us some good confidence for other tracks for sure,” said Norris, who once again outpaced McLaren teammate Daniel Ricciardo.
“We definitely struggled a bit here last year, so it’s nice to see some of the improvements we made.
“Yesterday we maybe struggled a little bit more than we were expecting, or maybe more today we did a little bit better than we were expecting. But the car felt good.
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“It was still not easy to drive, still quite tail happy a lot of the time, especially when it gets windy, but we’ve obviously made a lot of progress, and compared to the other guys, we had very good pace.
“So I’m happy, but it wasn’t like it was easy. Charles [Leclerc] was pushing me a lot for the whole [final] stint. So we’ve still got work to do to make my life easier, which is always nice, but we’ll keep pushing.”
Norris’ early season consistency has put the 21-year-old third in the Drivers’ standings, an impressive performance that has also boosted his confidence.
“Confidence is definitely at an all-time high not just on track but in the paddock, working in the team, they’re doing a great job, so confidence in myself and confidence in the team,” he said.
“Things are going well, but they can quickly go in the wrong direction so we’ve got to keep working and keep pushing hard.”
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