In the 2023 Qatar Grand Prix qualifying at Losail, McLaren‘s Lando Norris placed second, just behind Red Bull‘s polesitter, Max Verstappen. However, Norris’s overly aggressive turn 10 resulted in his car crossing over the white line, leading to his lap time being disqualified.
Norris’s previous run in Q3 was also disallowed due to its striking resemblance to the flawed lap. Consequently, he slipped down to a disappointing 10th place on the starting grid for the Sunday grand prix.
Speaking candidly to Sky Sports F1 after the event, Norris took responsibility for the botched laps, saying: “I don’t think like that. I just think of the job I’m meant to do today, which is put in good laps, don’t make mistakes. And that’s all I did today, so not a good day for me. The team has done a good job; I just messed it up. I just had a correction on oversteer and went off.”
Oscar Piastri, Norris’s McLaren colleague, was briefly elevated from fourth to third after Norris’s mishap, but his fastest lap was similarly annulled, demoting the Australian rookie to sixth place. Piastri attributed the high number of disqualified qualifying times, 22 in total, to the track’s slippery nature, making it considerably easy for drivers to err.
“I think it’s very tight and it’s so easy to make mistakes, the track is very slippery, so not making things easy for us,” he remarked, while also pointing out that despite the setback, there are still points available.
The McLaren team boss, Andrea Stella, expressed his disappointment at the fact that his team will commence the race from sixth and 10th, rather than a more favourable second and fourth, but was optimistic that the drivers could reclaim their leading positions during the main race.
He affirmed: “It’s a long weekend ahead of us and we don’t only want to limit damage, we want to recover entirely the positions and go back to where we belong. It’s unfortunate, it’s a bit disappointing, obviously, because the result doesn’t reflect the potential of the car, which today was again, quite strong, which is encouraging.”
Stella put faith in the long weekend and upcoming races, including a sprint shootout and the main race itself. He believed these presented plenty of opportunities to recuperate lost positions and he also noted that he saw McLaren as currently the second strongest team on this type of track layout.