Lando Norris said he was “devastated” by the late call which cost him a first Formula One victory at the Russian Grand Prix.
Norris was four laps away from a first win when a rain shower threw the Sochi race wide open. The McLaren driver had been holding off Lewis Hamilton in the dry, with the pair over 40 seconds clear of the next car.
Hamilton made the call to pit — after ignoring Mercedes’ first request — but Norris stayed out, twice ignoring McLaren’s requests to come in for intermediates.
It quickly became obvious Norris had made the wrong call as he struggled to keep the car on the race track. By the time he had tiptoed around the race track and made it to the pits on the penultimate lap, he had dropped to eighth, although he was able to pass Kimi Raikkonen on the final lap to finish seventh.
“Obviously unhappy… devastated in a way,” a visibly emotional Norris said after the race. “I guess we made a call to stay out and we stand by that call, of course the wrong one at the end.
“I made the decision as much as the team, more they thought I should box and I decided to stay out.
“My decision, I thought it was the way to go.”
Norris had secured the first pole position of his F1 career on Saturday and was agonisingly close to converting that to a first win on Sunday. He said his performance until the late race shower was a positive he can focus on.
“I had the confidence beforehand.I’ve felt capable of doing it for a while, but just a bit of heartbreak you know.
“I felt like I did everything I could even when it got tricky.
“I made a couple of mistakes and still kept Lewis behind. The laps I was out, before Lewis boxed, it was perfectly fine for the tyres I was on, got told the rain would be the same amount, but it obviously got a lot wetter than we as a team expected.”
Norris might still drop down the order after the race. When he entered the pits on the penultimate lap, the grip was so low on his slick tyres he overshot the entry and went over the white line.
He had to drive back across the line to make the pit-lane, something which is usually punishable by a time penalty.
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