The 21-year-old had dominated Q1 and Q2 at Spa and appeared to be in contention for his very first pole position, before crashing early in Q3 at Raidillon in a dramatic shunt that caused substantial damage to his car, and saw him taken to hospital for check-ups and an x-ray of his elbow.
He was released on Saturday night and cleared to race, as McLaren assessed the damage to his car. And on Sunday morning, they confirmed they changed the gearbox – but not the chassis – meaning he will have to take a five-place grid penalty, but not start from the pit lane.
READ MORE: Verstappen denies shock pole position to Russell in spectacular wet qualifying session at Spa
“After assessing the damage to Lando’s car, we decided to change the gearbox, which resulted in a five-seat grid penalty,” a McLaren spokesperson told F1.com.
This means that Norris will start the race from 14th position – pending further penalties. Failed to set a time in Q3, he was placed 10th but was moved to ninth as Valtteri Bottas, who qualified eighth, already had a five-place grid penalty for serve in Belgium, following his involvement in the multi-car tour 1. crash in Hungary the last time.
“First, I’m fine, but I’ve been better! I just think a little bruised. Obviously that had a pretty big impact and I think my body just got a bit of a stir, but I’m fine. I’m ready to race tomorrow and I already want to get back on track because it didn’t end the way I wanted it to ”, he said.
READ MORE: Russell in first place, Lap 1 drag race and rain – To watch in the Belgian GP
“Everything was going extremely well. Since the first lap in Q1, things were going perfectly and the car felt good. I felt confident with the car. It was hard to come out in Q3 because even on the exit lap I was saying how wet it was because I was doing a lot of aquaplaning.
“It was just a tough situation to go through. How much do you want to push? How much don’t you want? I think a combination of pushing a bit too much for the weather at the time and aquaplaning a bit in the middle of the Eau Rouge obviously didn’t end too well.
“I feel bad because things were going so well. I think I could have fought for pole position, but I have now given the team a lot of work. We will see where to start and try to score as many points as possible. Finally, a big thank you to all the Commissioners and medical staff for their help and hard work today. “