Lando Norris say he will cherish what he called a special podium in the Monaco Grand Prix, after qualifying close to pole and finishing third.
The McLaren driver lined up fifth on the grid after a strong qualifying performance, but was fourth into Turn 1 thanks to a lack of driver on pole when Charles Leclerc did not start the race. A pit stop problem for Valtteri Bottas then promoted Norris to third, and he says it is a surprising result as McLaren was unsure if it would be competitive at the iconic venue.
“It’s been a pretty crazy weekend,” Norris said. “We kind of went into it with not many expectations at all, but it turned into probably one of our best weekends altogether, bar maybe Imola.
“The car has been pretty good to drive, I’ve got a lot of confidence — I felt comfortable. I think that showed yesterday with probably an all right outright package, not being quite there yet with these guys. But with that confidence to push the car in qualifying, to be only two tenths off was cool — a great achievement for us, even though it was only P5.
“To be there, to make the most of other people’s mistakes — Bottas’ one with their pit stop — to grab a podium too… it’s been a cool weekend. Especially here in Monaco, it’s even more special than any other track. I’ll cherish it but I’m just hoping there’s plenty more of them and we can do it at other tracks — I think that’s going to be the harder thing to do.”
Norris came under pressure from Sergio Perez in the latter stages of the race and admits his race went from one where he was keeping an eye on Max Verstappen and Carlos Sainz to driving defensively later on.
“I think it was mixed — the first stint we were pretty competitive I think, pretty similar on pace to what Carlos was doing, Bottas and Max. Maybe Max was slightly ahead but I could see on the TV screens when I was going past what lap times Max was doing in the lead, I wasn’t that far behind. I was like, ‘Oh, OK, this is going well.’ But as soon as we put the hard tire on, it kind of turned to the opposite and it was a much more difficult car to drive.
“It was much easier to lock up, snatch the fronts. Not a lot of confidence; as soon as I heard where Sergio was in terms of his tire strategy — how much later he boxed — I got pretty worried. But I kept it on the black stuff, which is the most important, didn’t hit any walls. As long as you’re good out of the last corner and out of Turn 8, you cover those two places well, he’s not going to pass. So it wasn’t too bad.”