McLaren ‘a bit far off where we want to be’ in Imola

McLaren drivers Carlos Sainz and Lando Norris both expressed disappointment and some surprise not to be higher up the grid for tomorrow’s Emilia Romagna Grand Prix at Imola’s Autodromo Enzo e Dino Ferrari.

Sainz had only been 14th fastest in the weekend’s sole practice session on Saturday morning, with Norris two places further back. But the pair had still been confident of doing better in qualifying.

While both men did make it through to the final round, they were the slowest of the ten cars taking part and will line up alongside each other on row five with Norris just ahead of Sainz.

  • Read also: Bottas beats Hamilton as Mercedes locks out Imola front row

“Today we all expected maybe a bit more,” admitted Sainz. “We were quick in free practice and we were comfortable with the car.

“But in Q1 I had to run two sets of tyres, the feeling went a bit away and then we were just playing catch up, which meant for Q3 I only had one set of tyres left. I had to put together a decent lap that was nothing special.

“So we’re a bit far off from where we want to be,” he sighed. “We struggled more than expected and we need to analyse why.

“However, we still got both cars into Q3 and there’s everything to play for tomorrow. We’ll do our best to find some performance overnight and hopefully score good points after a strong race.”

Despite qualifying ahead of both Racing Point cars, Norris was also sounding rather downbeat “I want to say today was a good day, but it could’ve been a bit better.

“That last little bit of performance was difficult to extract from the car in Q3,” he said. “The car was quick, with the potential to be maybe one position higher, but not much more.

“I think the cars ahead of us were just quicker. We couldn’t have gone three tenths quicker like they both did,” he added.

Both drivers were surprised by how well the AlphaTauri cars in particular had been on Saturday. Pierre Gasly took fourth place, with Daniil Kvyat also ahead of both McLaren cars in eighth.

“[Gasly] was nearly four-tenths quicker,” conceded Sainz. “So the AlphaTauri, the Ferrari [of Charles Leclerc], the Renault [of Daniel Ricciardo ] were just quicker than us today and we need to play catch up tomorrow.”

“The other cars are just quicker,” agreed Norris. “Especially the AlphaTauris seem very quick this weekend.

“Some races they’re very, very good, and other races, not so good,” he added. “This track seems to be one that they‘re very good at, and confident.

“Last weekend it was just Pierre that was very strong, and now both cars seem to be very strong. So I guess that puts us two positions down from normal,” he said. “They still have that bit more pace that we were lacking today.

“We’re still ahead of two Racing Points, one of the Renaults, so it’s a good day,” he insisted. “I’m happy overall, but it’s a bit of a shame we couldn’t be that little bit higher.”

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