Lando Norris believes his Q3 appearance in Melbourne will not be a “one-off” for McLaren this season after qualifying eighth for his Formula 1 debut.
The Briton had never driven the Albert Park circuit beforehand but put his inexperience to one side as he lifted himself into the final segment of qualifying.
Norris’ final attempt secured a fourth row grid slot for Sunday’s race, out-qualifying his more experienced team-mate Carlos Sainz, who suffered an early exit.
Despite admitting to suffering nerves ahead of his first qualifying session, Norris highlighted the team’s progress following a difficult period last year.
“I enjoyed it to a point but I was so nervous. That took away a lot of the enjoyment,” said Norris. “But the enjoyment comes once I completed a lap I was happy with and obviously I’m happy for the whole team.
“That’s what makes me happy. Knowing how hard the team has worked and that it has all come together for qualifying. I did enjoy it a lot and happy to get it off my chest.”
The 19-year-old is the first F1 rookie since Sainz to register a top 10 starting position for their first grand prix, but Norris admits Q3 hadn’t been his expectation pre-session.
“No it was quite the opposite. I had done three runs and used three sets of softs in Q1,” he explained.
“Our aim was just to try and get into Q2 and that went pretty well. Then I did my Q2 lap and got into Q3. For now I’m very happy but I’ve got a long job ahead of me tomorrow.
“I think it just shows that it is possible to do it and it shows that we have in some ways moved forward from last year. Not as much as we need to but I feel like I really maximised everything.
“I have a long race ahead of me tomorrow, we have a lot of work ahead to maintain these Q3s. Today is not a one-off but they are not going to happen all the time so I will enjoy it.”