Norris hailed as McLaren relieved to be in fight for third-best team

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McLaren boss Andreas Seidl didn't expect Lando Norris to close within five seconds of Lewis Hamilton and claim third at the Austrian Grand Prix.

The youngest driver on the grid was in a titanic battle with Sergio Perez, Carlos Sainz and Charles Leclerc for the final podium place in the closing 10 laps, this after Alex Albon had been spun out by Hamilton.

But just when Leclerc had moved through and it appeared Norris could drop as low as sixth, he made a bold move on the Racing Point for fourth and then learning of the opportunity to beat the Mercedes.

"I think the last few laps were… it was kind of difficult because initially I only knew about Sergio having the penalty and I was P4 at that point I think, or P5 and obviously I still wanted P4," he explained to Racer.

"I initially had to judge what risk I would take to try and get past him or whether I would hold position and get the position freely through his penalty but I had much better pace and Carlos was right behind me so Carlos would have gone for every move he could have done, just like he did.

"So I knew I had to get past him but at that point, I still didn’t know about Lewis having the penalty either so I was happy to get past him in the first place and I had clean air which was good for me.

"And then I think it was with three laps to go that I got told that Lewis had the five-second penalty and yeah I was told I could get on with it and really push it and I took the risks that I needed to but yeah, on the final lap I managed to close in, I don’t know what it was, over a second and a bit on Lewis so that was a key. I got the podium on the final lap of the race."

With the gap still at almost six seconds as the final lap began, Seidl admits it was a testament to Norris that he could push as he did.

“To be honest, I didn’t expect him to be able to pull off that lap at the end," Seidl told Sky Sports.

"Obviously, we had a strategy in mind, but such a young guy pulling off such a lap on the very last lap and [being] up on the podium, it’s just great.

“Maybe they [Mercedes] didn’t think that we had the potential to do that lap at the end. To be honest, I don’t care I’m happy with how it ended.”

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With P3 for Lando, McLaren scored their second podium in three races, having previously failed to reach the top three since Australia 2014.

“I’m just proud to be part of the team today," the German added

"There could be nothing better for the entire team, especially, after this difficult period also than such a result, especially with P3 and P5 I think. It’s simply unbelievable."

The performance in qualifying and the race also allayed fears from Friday that the Woking-based team could be as low as sixth in the pecking order.

“Obviously, it’s difficult to judge," Seidl noted on exactly where McLaren stand. 

"In the end, Racing Point and us split the strategies at the first pit stop. Perez went on the medium tyre, us on the hard.

“It’s difficult to know if this medium would have worn down towards the end and then we would have got him.

“What’s encouraging for us to see is simply, after we had some doubts on Friday in terms of our long-run pace, is that we actually were even with Racing Point and the Ferraris."