Lando Norris believes he could have landed pole position for the United States Grand Prix without a minor error at Turn 11 on his final lap.

Despite having his first run in Q3 deleted for exceeding track limits, Norris still secured a front-row starting berth for Sunday’s race.

Norris wound up 0.130s away from Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc at the end of a pulsating hour, edging out Lewis Hamilton’s Mercedes for second place by only nine-thousandths.

The Briton admits that the team was anticipating its recent podium-scoring momentum to be halted by the slower-speed sections at the Circuit of the Americas.

Although Norris asserts McLaren was slower than the teams it predicted to be behind, he concedes the Woking squad ended up closer to the ultimate pace than he’d expected.

“I think when you realise where Max probably should have been in terms of overall pace, I still think the Red Bulls probably close to being the quickest,” he said. “And I didn’t expect to beat Ferrari, so I think we’re in probably the position we expected to be.

“Probably closer to pole than I was expecting. I think there was still that little chance to potentially get it today. So probably similar to Charles, you know, pleasantly surprised to be sitting here in the top three, first of all, but then especially in P2. So a good day for us.

“A little bit surprising, you know, because we know mainly the slow speed is a normally a big weakness for us, and there’s less high speed here comparing to Qatar and things like that. So I’m happy with today.”

Lando Norris (GBR) McLaren. 20.10.2023. Formula 1 World Championship, Rd 19, United States Grand Prix, Austin, Texas, USA, Qualifying Day

However, Norris, competing in his 100th F1 grand prix this weekend, believes that a misjudgement into the left-hander at Turn 11 before the kilometre-long back straight dented his chances of landing pole.

Expanding on the moment, Norris, who rued letting top spot in qualifying escape his grasp last time out in Qatar, explained: “Yeah, Turn 11, that’s where it all went wrong, I think the rest… maybe a little bit the last corner.

“Turn 11, we’ve been struggling a little bit with just consistency of car and braking performance. And the car just turned a bit better than I was expecting. And I mean, I braked later, but then the car also rotated better. So I was expecting to almost miss the apex a bit more. And I ended up just clipping the kerb. And when you clip the kerb in 11 it’s the run the whole way down the straight that you lose.

“So it’s just a half-a-tenth mistake initially, because you get on power a bit later. But then because you get on power later, you lose easily another half a tenth or sometimes more all the way down to Turn 12.

“The rest of the lap, apart from maybe the last corner was, I think, very strong. I was very happy with Turn 1 and Sector 1. Just two places I feel like I probably lost it today.”

Norris also downplayed that only possessing one new set of tyres for the final stage hindered him, insisting that the missed opportunity was down to his mistakes.

“If I just did a good lap, maybe then that could have been pole,” he stated. “I just made a few mistakes.

“I’m sure a lot of people made mistakes today. It’s not an easy track to put it all together just bad tarmac in areas and slippery and wind in certain corners, bumps.

“So I think just a lot of things going on, so still to be sitting here, I’m happy with that.

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