The Englishman acknowledged that strategy calls played a role, especially the decision to stay out on slicks at the original start.
However, he insisted that the MCL60 simply wasn’t as competitive on Sunday as it was in qualifying, citing the comparison with rivals Aston Martin and Mercedes as “terrible”.
“There are times when it’s down to pace and times when it’s down to strategy, and the strategy is what messed us up today,” he said.
“I don’t think the pace is bad, the pace was okay. Not good enough, if you want to say what was our pace compared to Aston’s? It was pretty terrible. Compared to Mercedes? Pretty terrible.
“So our pace today was a long way off our pace that we showed yesterday in qualifying. And our one-lap is still a lot more competitive than our race pace.
“I think that’s becoming more and more evident. And we’re doing whatever we can to fix it and make steps forward, but at the minute it’s nowhere near enough.”
Norris was adamant that McLaren made the wrong call by not pitting him for intermediates as rain fell at the start of the race.
Lando Norris, McLaren MCL60, leaves the pit box
Photo by: Simon Galloway / Motorsport Images
While others pitted on the first or second laps he was kept out until lap three despite questioning the strategy, and after his stop, he initially fell as low as 12th as a result.
“I think it’s clear we made the wrong decision, and we made a bad decision,” he said when asked by Motorsport.com about the call.
“It’s something we’ll review and talk about and discuss because I guess we’ve made a couple this season and we’ve lost too many positions and lost a lot of points throughout this year with a couple of these things.
“The second part of the race we made up for it, well not made up for it, but we made the right decision and were one of the first ones to box [when the rain returned], and we gained some time, we gained a position on George [Russell] and things like that. But the first one was just, not great.”
Reminded of his lost victory chance due to a late tyre call in the wet Russian GP in 2021, he said: “It changes. I think there are plenty of times when we’ve made the right decisions, and good decisions, and gained. I think generally you remember more the ones that you lose on than those you gain on.
“I don’t think it’s really the same thing. I think that they’re quite different, and I think we’ve made some good steps, and some good progress with a lot of it. A day like today it was evident we were a long way from where we needed to be.”
Norris also survived a brush with Russell at the resumption after the red flag, but the Mercedes driver was forced to pit with a puncture.
Lando Norris, McLaren MCL60, Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes F1 W14
Photo by: Andy Hone / Motorsport Images
“The cars are so sharp nowadays, you touch them a little bit and it’s like you have four punctures all of a sudden,” he said.
“It was just good racing, it was close, we were wheel-to-wheel, and I feel bad that he came off that way, but nothing I should have done differently.”
Norris admitted that next weekend’s race at Monza could be tough for the team, with Spa having highlighted the straightline speed weakness of the MCL60.
“I think like Andrea [Stella] said there’s been so much focus on trying to get the car we have now, which is the completely correct decision to have done,” he said. “So much focus and time spent on creating this, there are some things we’re quite far behind on.
“But I’d happily take 80% good races and 20% bad rather than vice versa. We know it, I think we admit it, which is always a good thing. We know we’re probably in for a pretty tough race.
“I doubt the weather is going to be as helpful. Maybe it is, but straights are still our weakness at the minute, and we’ll see what we can come up with.”