McLaren Renault’s Lando Norris says he is not getting carried away following a strong qualifying for his debut Formula One race.

The 19 year old will start Sunday’s Australian Grand Prix in Melbourne’s Albert Park from eighth place ahead of both Alfa Romeo Racing’s Kimi Raikkonen and SportPesa Racing Point F1 Team’s Sergio Checo Perez.

Norris, who set a Q3 time of 01:22.304s commented by saying:

“I loved it but I’m not going to get carried away! I was very nervous at the start of the session with it being my first-ever F1 quali and never having been here before. But I managed to put the laps together today – the team were fantastic.

“Our aim was to get into Q2 but it turned out to be even better, and it’s a great confidence boost for everyone. It’s going to be a long, tough race and that’s what I must concentrate on now. Hopefully I can sleep okay.”

It was a disappointing qualifying for Carlos Sainz in the second McLaren as the Spaniard will start his first race with the Woking based outfit from 18th place following a qualifying time of 01:23.084s.

Speaking following the action he said:

I had unbelievable bad luck out there today. I was on a very good lap that would have got us into the top 10. Then I came across the Williams of Robert Kubica with a puncture in the last sector in the middle of the track at Turn 14, but I couldn’t avoid him and I dropped four tenths. It is what it is – I was in the wrong place at the wrong time – so it’s a shame.

“We definitely had the pace to get through into Q2. We had a margin to be even stronger in Q2, but it was all out of our control. Hopefully tomorrow our pace will be good for the race, and it’s positive to see the potential the car showed today. We know that qualifying is important here as it’s a difficult track to pass on, so P18 is a disappointing result. But, we need to stay positive and let’s see what we can do tomorrow.”

McLaren Renault’s Sporting Director Gil De Ferran commented on qualifying saying:

It was a good day that could have been even better. Carlos definitely had enough pace to progress through qualifying. Unfortunately, he encountered traffic on his last run which sealed his fate and his lowly and undeserved qualifying position. I’d like to take this opportunity to thank our engine partner Renault and acknowledge the great job they did over the winter to deliver a competitive package.

“We are obviously all absolutely delighted with Lando’s performance in his first-ever Formula 1 qualifying session. He has been building up his pace all weekend with a great deal of control and discipline, and this afternoon was a deserved reward for his hard work.

“Today’s performance was also deserved reward for the whole McLaren team, who have worked tirelessly to prepare for this season. However, we’re only halfway through the battle and there is still a lot of work ahead of us, not only to try and bring home some points tomorrow, but throughout the season in our quest to continue moving forward. In closing, I’m pretty sure based on today’s qualifying session that Formula 1 fans can expect an unpredictable and thrilling Australian Grand Prix.”

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