Lando Norris made an early exit from today’s Las Vegas Grand Prix after his McLaren snapped into a scary accident and a hard hit in turn 12 on lap 3, immediately after a Virtual Safety Car for a general clear-up.
Although Norris was able to step out of the car unaided, McLaren team principal Zak Brown reported that the 24-year-old was winded as a result of the force of the impact.
After being checked over in the F1 medical centre in the paddock, Norris was dispatched to the nearby the University Medical Center for further evaluation. he was subsequently given the all-clear and discharged in the early hours.
“An unfortunate end to our weekend,” he said later. “I just bottomed out on the restart, lost the rear and hit the wall. Not the way we wanted the weekend to end
“Big thanks go to the medical staff for checking me over, and to the team for the work they’ll now put in on the car. One week to reset and go again for the season finale in Abu Dhabi.”
McLaren team principal Andrea Stella felt the accident had been triggered by an issue with the track surface, coupled with the tyres having lost temperature during the brief VSC.
“I think the combination of the bump and the cold tyres might have surprised him,” he suggested. “There’s a bump in that place and you can see all cars sparkle when they go through this bump.
“I think that bump – if we carry on racing at nighttime – should be fixed,” he added. “Because the tyres will always be cold, low grip and it becomes a very tricky corner.”
Stella said the late hour for the race was not the main problem. “During the weekend we saw cases of oversteer in that place so independently of the timetable, we would strongly recommend that this bump is smoothened out.”
“There are multiple factors. Maybe Lando made a kind of assumption that there was enough grip,” he added. “But it’s very tricky, I’m sure all drivers will say that. That’s something that needs to be fixed.”
Norris’ early retirement from the race left his team mate Oscar Piastri carrying McLarens’ papaya colours. The Australian started from 18th and clashed with Lewis Hamilton in the first half of the race.
Even so, he was running in fourth with ten laps to go when his tyres gave up. “It was a bit of a surprise as to how quick we were,” admitted Stella.
A rapid second pit stop allowed him to retrieve some of the places lost, and he finished just inside the points in P10 as well as reaping the bonus point for fastest lap time during the race.
“We needed to pit before the due time because of the contact with Hamilton,” he said. “That was disappointing, just a massive shame, because Oscar was absolutely brilliant.”
“It felt like we kinda deserved a bit more from that race,” commented Piastri. “We were caught out by starting on the hard [tyre]
“The pace was good but in the end it didn’t make too much difference,” he added. “We’ll take the positives. It’s a lot better than yesterday, and the pace in the car is still pretty good.”
McLaren is now only 11 points ahead of Alpine in their battle for P4 in the 2023 constructors championship with Alpine having out-scored their rivals by ten points in Vegas, and with just one race remaining this season.
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