Formula One: 'Delighted' Norris stunned by career-best fourth spot in Austria qualifying

McLaren's Lando Norris during practice on July 4, 2020. PHOTO: REUTERS

SPIELBERG, AUSTRIA (AFP) - Lando Norris secured a career-best fourth place on the grid for McLaren for the season-opening Austrian Grand Prix and admitted he had exceeded his own expectations.

The 20-year-old Briton qualified behind the pace-setting Mercedes pairing of pole sitter Valtteri Bottas and six-time champion Lewis Hamilton and Red Bull's Max Verstappen, but ahead of both Ferraris and other strong rivals including Racing Point's speedy "pink Mercedes" cars.

"We had our expectations of where we thought we wanted to be and from the very beginning the Racing Points have clearly been extremely quick," said Norris, who is embarking on his second F1 season.

"We never thought we'd be in a chance of beating them or getting close to them so we are delighted with this and with the car performance.

"The car started to come alive and feel better and better as it went to lower fuel levels and this track was very good for us last year. So we have confidence in the car and feel it suits us at the moment.

"Hopefully, the race goes well and we have two (consecutive) weekends of this and, hopefully, we can repeat it as well."

Norris will start the race - his and the sport's first F1 race for 216 days - alongside Verstappen with Alex Albon in the second Red Bull and Racing Point's Sergio Perez behind him.

His Ferrari-bound McLaren team-mate Carlos Sainz qualified eighth.

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