Lando Norris will start the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix from the back row of the grid and admits it's the result of a "silly" mistake he made during qualifying.

His rookie team-mate Oscar Piastri proved the pace was in the McLaren cars on Saturday as he went ninth quickest in his MCL60. It means he'll start eighth on the grid on Sunday thanks to Charles Leclerc's 10-place grid penalty.

But Norris was unable to get the best out of his car. In fact, he never really got the chance after misjudging the entry into a corner in Q1 and whacking the wall so hard that it caused damage to his car which could not be repaired in time.

So he qualified 19th – saved from last place only by the fact Logan Sargeant fell foul of F1's 107 per cent rule – and has a mountain to climb in the race. And no excuses were made by the Brit as he faced the TV cameras after the session.

"It was a silly mistake I shouldn't make, to be honest with you," said Norris. "I paid the price very quickly – so frustrated. I probably should have easily been into Q2, potentially Q3 and I let the team down today, so I'm annoyed."

He confirmed that he had damaged the front-left steering column on his car with the contact. McLaren engineers were seen scrambling to fix it after he limped back to the garage, but the damage was too extensive to get sorted in time for Norris to get back out on track.

Instead, the racer will simply have to redeem himself in the race by climbing back up to the points positions. And he fancies his chances of being able to do so, having been encouraged by the experience of driving his car on the Jeddah track so far this weekend.

Norris added: "The potential is there. The car has better pace I would say than we had in Bahrain, so I want to be a little bit more hopeful, but it's probably a harder track to overtake on than Bahrain, so I don't know what to expect yet."

Sergio Perez took pole position after his team-mate Max Verstappen suffered a mechanical problem in Q2 which consigned him to 15th on the grid. Leclerc was second fastest but has that grid penalty, so Fernando Alonso will join Perez on the front row with George Russell lining up in third.

2023-03-18T22:51:26Z dg43tfdfdgfd