Lando Norris said he felt he had “a little chance” at putting himself on the front row for sprint qualifying at Imola, after taking P3.
The McLaren driver drove well throughout an often-interrupted qualifying session on Friday, with five red flags and ever-changing conditions making it tough going for the drivers throughout.
Norris himself ran into the barriers in the closing stages of Q3, prompting the final red flag that ultimately ended up setting the grid for Saturday’s sprint.
McLaren have fallen well back in the pecking order in the field so far this season, with the MCL36 proving to be a difficult car for the drivers to handle in the early rounds.
This result represents a marked improvement for the Woking team, but the 22-year-old felt a little bit more could have been possible, had he put all his energy into producing one lap instead of going for a second attempt.
The average age of the top three in #ImolaGP qualifying?
23 years, 310 days.
— PlanetF1 (@Planet_F1) April 22, 2022
“I would have liked to have put that last lap in, because we didn’t do a lap where we were full power, full battery,” Norris told Sky Sports F1 after the session.
“The lap I did in the beginning of Q3 was like a two consecutive, and when you do two consecutive [laps], you have to kind of split the battery 50 per cent, 50 per cent.
“If I managed to get a lap at the end which was 100 per cent battery, there was a good three, four tenths left in it.
“I’m sure Charles [Leclerc] maybe would have improved as well, but if he made a mistake and didn’t do that, I think I could have got him.
“So there’s maybe that little chance to do even better and to score a second place today, but it didn’t happen because of the mistake I made at the end, so I have to be happy enough with third.
“Honestly, it’s a very good result for us, so I’m taking it.”
Despite Norris’ protestations in Saudi Arabia and Australia, McLaren have continued their progress after being stuck in the lower midfield in Bahrain.
The Briton said previously that any improvements made by the team have merely been down to the tracks suiting their car more than Bahrain, but he did say some little bits have been added to the car this weekend.
However, he felt he was able to make a difference himself behind the wheel in qualifying, with the wet conditions playing up to their reputation of being the great ‘equaliser’ in Formula 1.
“There are some small upgrades we have this weekend, small things, nothing which has made us go from where we were to P3, you know?” He said.
“We’re still a long way off the Ferraris and the Red Bulls, and we saw this morning [in practice], when the conditions are consistent, we’re a bit more in our place and where we should be, which is a bit further back.
“Without trying to big myself up a little bit, when it’s a bit more down to the driver and taking risks and pushing the tyres and finding the limits in wet-dry-wet-dry conditions, that’s where we’ve done a good job today.
“So I think I just need to be happy with myself and the job I’d done, I did everything what I needed to, therefore I’m happy with that.”