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Formula 1 Chinese GP

Norris had no reason to apologise for China F1 sprint showing, says McLaren

McLaren says Lando Norris had no need to apologise for his Formula 1 sprint race showing in China, after failing to convert his pole position into a podium.

Lando Norris, McLaren MCL38, Oscar Piastri, McLaren MCL38, Zhou Guanyu, Kick Sauber C44

Norris had started from the front after a brilliant showing in Friday’s wet qualifying session, but it all went wrong at Turn 1 of the sprint race after he came off worse in a side-by-side tussle with Lewis Hamilton.

Having lost ground away from the grid, he found himself on the dirt on the outside of the long right- hand first corner. And, after instantly losing grip, he ran wide and dropped down the order.

While he was able to recover and finished sixth, Norris clearly felt he should have done better.

Speaking over the team radio after the chequered flag, Norris said: “Yeah, I f***** up Turn 1, my bad. I just completely lost the car, so apologies. Should have scored some more points than that.”

But McLaren boss Andrea Stella moved quickly to say that rather than the driver apologising, it was the team that should be saying sorry for not giving him a car that was better able to fight for wins.

“Certainly he doesn't need to apologise because we need his apologies [for the car],” Stella told Sky Sports F1.

“He knows that he could have done better, but we appreciate the maximum effort and we work as a team. And also this just gives a sense of the kind of person he is.

“He feels, I'm sure, like 'I've disappointed the team.' [But] don't worry, Lando, you haven't disappointed the team. We need to give you a better car and then all things will become much easier, rather than always being on the limit to bring on some important results.

“So it's more up to us, and the men and women at McLaren are working hard to improve the car.”

While Norris would likely have had a chance to fight Hamilton for the lead early on if he had had a better first corner, he doubted that he would have ultimately been able to stave off eventual winner Max Verstappen.

“Yeah, no chance,” he said when asked if the win had been on the table. “Maybe it could have been one or two positions higher. But that was it.

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“I think the Mercedes had very good pace today. George [Russell] was catching us quite quickly and Lewis had good pace as well. And then the Red Bulls and even the Ferraris, honestly.

“I was managing to survive just because of the DRS. If I didn't have DRS, I was long gone behind all of them. Our race pace was pretty shocking today, which we kind of expected with just how the track is, and just our limitations we have on the car.”

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