McLaren team boss Andrea Stella has hailed Lando Norris’ 12-place climb to fifth in the Mexico City Grand Prix as “one of the best races for a driver that I’ve been part of.”

Having lined up 17th after being caught out in qualifying, Norris had progressed up to 10th when a red flag period was enforced on Lap 33 by Kevin Magnussen’s hefty crash.

However, the Briton encountered a sizeable setback in his recovery bid when he made a sluggish getaway at the standing restart and dropped down four places back to 14th.

But Norris charged through the pack to overtake several cars, culminating with a brilliant switchback manoeuvre on George Russell to seize fifth by the chequered flag.

Stella believes Norris’ ascent up the order was even more impressive considering the Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez is regarded as one of the hardest venues to overtake.

“Overtaking, so many overtakings, in Mexico, where yesterday if you read the quotes everyone is saying it’s so difficult to overtake, while managing PU temperatures, having to do lift and coast. I’m just impressed. One of the best races for a driver that I’ve been part of, let’s say.”

Lando Norris (GBR) McLaren MCL60. 27.10.2023. Formula 1 World Championship, Rd 20, Mexican Grand Prix, Mexico City, Mexico, Practice Day

The ex-Ferrari race engineer admits that Norris’ drive reminded him of Fernando Alonso’s race-winning exploits from down the order at the 2012 European Grand Prix.

“Yeah, this race made me think of Valencia 2012, where at the time we started 12th, we won the race,” Stella asserted.

But Stella concedes that the result provided a bittersweet one for McLaren, having failed to utilise its competitiveness in race trim following Norris’ compromised qualifying.

“But this one… you know, on one side we are excited, having seen this kind of masterpiece, on the other side like Lando said on the in-lap, like, guys let’s do a good job on Saturday and we can fight for podiums, so you know the pace was there to fight for podiums.”

Nevertheless, the Italian is determined to look at the positives regarding McLaren’s encouraging pace, while insisting the team must execute cleaner weekends.

He added: “That’s what I’m trying to say, there’s a little element of frustration, but at the same time if you asked me yesterday I would not have thought we could overtake so many cars.

“So I’d rather take the positives out of this race and I hope that the entire team at the factory and the fans receive the same sort of message: we are there, we don’t give up, we are competitive, but we need to do a better job overall the whole race weekend.”

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