Frustrated Norris says McLaren are 'on a roll'

McLaren's Lando Norris (middle) blames his start for losing the Spanish Grand Prix (Manaure Quintero)
McLaren's Lando Norris (middle) blames his start for losing the Spanish Grand Prix (Manaure Quintero)

McLaren and Lando Norris were on fire - on and off the track - at the Spanish Grand Prix this weekend.

Norris claimed pole on Saturday with what he rated his "best ever lap" hours after having to be evacuated along with the rest of the team when McLaren's hospitality unit caught fire.

On Sunday the young Briton was kicking himself after getting swamped at the start by George Russell's Mercedes and race winner Max Verstappen's Red Bull.

His frustration spoke volumes for the progress the decorated British marque has made after several years in the doldrums.

At the line in Catalonia, Norris was only separated from Verstappen by a little over two seconds - last year Verstappen was half a minute in front of the chasing pack.

Norris picked up the point for the fastest lap to push him to a career-first second in the drivers' standings, 59 adrift of the three-time world champion Verstappen ahead of Austria and his home race in Silverstone over the next two weekends.

"I wasn't good enough, we should have won today," bemoaned Norris.

"The start was down to me. Without that we easily should have won.

"I think we had the quickest car, I just didn't do a good enough job off the line.

"As a team we had the perfect strategy. The one part at the start wasn't good enough."

Norris, who claimed his maiden win in Miami last month, has now finished second three times this season to underline McLaren's massive upturn in fortune under boss Zak Brown.

His teammate, Oscar Piastri, who before racing met the firefighters to thank them for dealing with the blaze at the hospitality unit, is playing a generally solid role as 'wingman' with second in Monaco and seventh in Spain after setting off from ninth on the grid.

Norris is now eager to pitch up in Spielberg next weekend to try and notch his second win so as not to allow Verstappen to runaway with the 2024 title.

"Every weekend we go into now, I'm confident.

"It's very close between four teams fighting for pole (Red Bull, McLaren, Mercedes and Ferrari).

"Austria's one of my favourite tracks. It's exciting to see all the smoke (Dutch flares) in the grandstands.

"I'm excited. we're on a roll, I just need to tidy a few bits to get on top."