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Autosport

Unwell Norris admits Spanish GP weekend "not my peak"

In the circumstances, Norris was pleased to have made the top 10 in Q2 for the Spanish GP before a track-limits penalty cost him the laptime that would have put him eighth in the session, leaving him stranded instead in 11th place.

Norris was subsequently able to view the FIA's footage of his costly run wide at Turn 12 and accepted the decision given the current focus of the new race directors on the white line being the limit of the track.

But Norris admitted that he is feeling worse than he has done in a while.

"I've not been great all weekend, to be honest with you," he said. "It's not COVID. I'm just suffering with my throat and my eyes and seeing, which doesn't help.

"I've got many things, my sleep and everything and energy levels is probably the worst I've had in a long time.

"Definitely not my peak this weekend. I was so happy even to be into Q3, and to do the lap I did, with how this weekend has gone so far. I was quite surprised by it. It just makes me feel good."

Norris conceded the FIA videos, which he viewed when called over a separate unsafe release incident involving Lance Stroll, indicated that he had breached track limits.

"I mean it was as simple as it looked really," he said. "I think the only thing was from the onboards, it looked like I was on the track, but from the outboards from the FIA, I was clearly off the track. So simple as that.

"I think what makes it so tricky on this corner is you have the gravel run-off, and you have 10cm or so of track which you can't use before the gravel.

"And in some cases, it's much easier to just say the gravel is the limit, and everyone pushes up to the gravel.

"And if you go off, there's a there's a punishment already. But I don't know, it's been a rule all season, the white line is the limit, so I just didn't stick to it."

Norris's progress with the latest McLaren update package was not helped by him losing most of Friday's FP2 session after damaging the car in a trip across the kerbs, obliging the team to build up the spare chassis for Saturday.

Lando Norris, McLaren MCL36 (Photo by: Mark Sutton / Motorsport Images)

While he missed out on long-run preparation for the race, he insisted that his qualifying session was not compromised by the lost mileage.

"I don't want to use it as an excuse for anything," he said when asked by Autosport what the impact of the missed session was.

"I think the only thing which will hurt me the most is just for the longer runs tomorrow, just getting some more high fuel, especially when it's this temperature and so on, every little bit of learning you can do to help save the tyres and manage them and keep the temperatures down, all those things it's not easy to learn it on the fly during the race.

"Of course, I have a good idea already of what I need to do. But nothing beats actually doing the laps for real.

"I wouldn't say that it hurt anything in qualifying, more for tomorrow maybe just a couple of little steps behind, but nothing that by midway through the race hopefully that I can't make up."

With Norris absent from Q3, his team-mate Daniel Ricciardo earned a solid ninth place, putting their qualifying score for the season at 5:1.

"I think we're still kind of learning about the new bits," said the Australian. "With updates and new bits it's not kind of always as simple as just bolting them on and sending the car.

"I think once you put them on, you also need to figure out how to balance the car well with that. So I think we're still trying to figure out the best balance with the new bits.

"So I'm not yet sure if we've like really maximise the true performance of them, but we're still going through a learning phase, and I think to get into Q3 was solid. But we're still obviously trying to chase a bit of lap time."