Delighted as he was to qualify third for the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, Lando Norris admits the position makes him nervous because he doesn’t want to get involved in the title fight ahead of him.
Max Verstappen will start from pole position ahead of Lewis Hamilton, with Norris an impressive third for McLaren at the Yas Marina Circuit. While he has battled with both drivers before, Norris says the magnitude of the championship fight means he’s worried about having an influence if he is involved in an incident with either contender.
“I’m a bit nervous, because I kind of want to stay where I am and watch everything unfold in the first few laps, or even the whole race,” Norris said. “I don’t want really to get involved too much as it can cause a lot of controversy. I don’t know whether to go for the move, not go for the move…you tell me! But I’ll do my best and if I have a chance I’ll go for it.
“I’m in the best seat for tomorrow — very excited to see everything unfold. It’s just a genuine pleasure to be in this position to see everything that’s been going on this season between Max and Lewis, to watch the battles and watch the racing, because I’ve a lot of respect for them. Very happy to be P3, not only because it’s a good position to start, but that it gives me a prime view for tomorrow.”
Norris put himself in position to fight for the podium with a strong final lap in Q3 and he admits it was a surprise to come out as best of the rest behind Verstappen and Hamilton, something he attributes to the track layout.
“I mean (the lap) came already in Q3 run one, I made some improvements, also some mistakes, and I just did a clean lap in the end. I went for pole, didn’t work out — still a bit off, but nice lap for P3. A bit of a surprise.
“We’re still sensitive to different types of corners — banked corners and not banked corners and so on. Qatar we were very competitive, quicker than Ferrari, but apart from that in the last bunch we’ve generally been a bit slower.
“To come here, to be ahead — it was close between us, I think I was only five hundredths ahead of Carlos (Sainz), so it’s not like we’re miles quicker and it’ll be comfortable tomorrow, but it was a good thing for myself and a good thing for the team.”