Lando Norris says the Pirelli tire failures in the Qatar Grand Prix “just should not happen” and cost McLaren a significant chance to close the gap to Ferrari in the constructors’ championship.
Valtteri Bottas, both Williams drivers and Norris all suffered front left tire failures in the second half of the race in Losail, with Norris being forced to stop 24 laps into his stint on hard tires, having already completed 25 laps on the softs he had qualified on earlier in the race. While he was aware of the need to manage his tire usage, Norris says the failures were not due to pushing the tires too far and therefore could have proven extremely dangerous based on where they failed.
“Tire wear (was expected), but I didn’t expect the tire to blow up, especially not on the hard tire,” Norris said. “We were not that far into the stint, it was like 20 laps or something, and a tire should be able to go more than 20 laps. At every track you look after the tires because the tires wear out a bit, but you do not expect it to suddenly let go completely. Quite dangerous for a lot of people, and that shouldn’t happen.
“It is obvious what it is, but I just cannot say it … it just should not happen. If there was a wall there it could’ve been much more dangerous.”
At the time of his failure, Norris was running fourth between Fernando Alonso and Sergio Perez and had made the latest pit stop of the three in the fight for the podium. With Carlos Sainz and Charles Leclerc in eighth and ninth respectively, he was set to take up to nine points out of Ferrari’s advantage in the constructors’ standings, but instead his issue promoted both cars and saw McLaren lose more ground.
“The last few races we made some mistakes,” Norris said. “(In Qatar) we did a better job than them. The car was pretty strong. We had a good car on race day. Even better than I expected. I was happy and I could push a lot.
“We should have been P4. If we got everything right maybe we could have challenged for P3, but with Fernando you do not expect an easy overtake if I tried. We should’ve had a lot more points than Ferrari. They are a long way ahead and further away now. They did that because they deserved it and they were there on performance. But when you have days like (Sunday) there is nothing you can do.”