By Simon Bull
Lando Norris’ confidence in F1 at an ‘all-time high’
Three races in and the sharp end of the Drivers’ Championship still reads: Lewis Hamilton, Max Verstappen, Lando Norris. Sunday’s fifth-place finish for Norris at Portimao was the fourth consecutive race either side of the winter break that the McLaren driver has finished inside the top five.
“Confidence is definitely at an all-time high not just on track but in the paddock, working in the team. They’re doing a great job, so confidence in myself and confidence in the team,” Norris told Sky F1’s Simon Lazenby.
“Things are going well, but they can quickly go in the wrong direction so we’ve got to keep working and keep pushing hard.
“A good few laps, a lot of wheel-to-wheel action. Would have been nice to stay ahead of the Red Bulls because we’re there on merit, we raced ahead of them, but we don’t have the pace to stay ahead.”
Alonso finally able to ‘extract the maximum’ from his Alpine
Thirteenth on the grid, 15th at the end of the first lap, but a surging finish to eighth for Fernando Alonso, who said he enjoyed a ‘fun’ Portuguese Grand Prix.
“We’ve made a big step in performance since Imola,” he said. “I think in Bahrain I was more careful, in Imola I was so uncomfortable in the car with the conditions, so I think this is the first race I’ve really been extracting the maximum from the car.”
The Spaniard made a number of overtakes including passing both Daniel Ricciardo and Carlos Sainz in the closing laps. “I was upset after yesterday’s qualifying so that anger was probably out there on track today!” he told Sky F1’s Nico Rosberg.
So is this pace typical of what we can expect for the rest of the season from Alpine?
“I wish this is the real pace, here we were with the Ferraris and the McLarens so yeah we would love to keep it like this. But I still have some homework to do [in qualifying] to start further forward.”
Charles Leclerc didn’t do a ‘good job as a driver’
The only points-scoring Ferrari in the end with sixth place, but Charles Leclerc claims his decision to start on the medium tyre “wasn’t a good one” and contributed to what he felt was personally a sub-par weekend.
“The mediums for us, only for us, we massively struggled, both of us. A lot of graining straight away, we struggled a lot,” he told Sky F1.
“If I look at the whole weekend I haven’t done a good job as a driver. I haven’t extracted the best out of the car just because I was very inconsistent.
“So today I have done a good job, from eighth there was not much better we could do but looking at the full weekend I could have done a better job.”
Sergio Perez on ‘messy’ Portimao Sunday
The Red Bull driver reckons his early scrap with Lando Norris following the race restart likely cost him a battle with the top three, after he ultimately finished adrift on fourth.
“I thought Lando was totally off track limits therefore I didn’t fight the position hard enough, thinking he would give me back the place so I misjudged that one,” said Perez. “It took me a couple of laps to get past Lando and that created the gap to the leaders and out of the race by then.”
Perez also admitted he still feels ‘far away’ from feeling at home in the Red Bull car three races into his new career at the team.
‘One of the toughest races,’ says George Russell
High winds caused havoc for the Williams team, whose car has notably struggled in gusty conditions. George Russell had gone into Sunday hoping for points from a fine 11th on the grid, but those prospects quickly unravelled in the race.
“It was a race of survival just trying to keep the car on the track,” the Brit revealed. “I couldn’t battle with anybody because I was so focused with keeping the car on the circuit.
“We know how difficult our car is when the wind picks up, and we’ve seen over the course of this weekend, when the wind was strong we were slow, when the wind dies down we can do a performance like we did yesterday.”
‘Changing a switch’ on the steering wheel caused Alfa Romeo collision
Kimi Raikkonen’s Portuguese Grand Prix was cut short after running into the back of his Alfa Romeo team-mate at the end of the opening lap, in an incident which brought out the Safety Car.
So what happened?
“My mistake. I was checking something on the steering wheel, changing a switch,” Kimi explained as he followed Antonio Giovinazzi. “I got it wrong out of the last corner and had to change it on the straight again and just drove into him, so really my mistake.”
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