Norris relishing fights with Mercedes, Red Bull

Charles Coates/Motorsport Images

Norris relishing fights with Mercedes, Red Bull

Formula 1

Norris relishing fights with Mercedes, Red Bull

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Lando Norris is enjoying being involved in fights with the likes of Mercedes and Red Bull after picking up his second career podium in the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix.

McLaren finished third in the constructors’ championship last year but was still quite a way from the level of the top two teams, with its total of 202 points – 371 adrift of Mercedes. A strong start to 2021 has seen the team once again sitting third, and with Norris coming close to holding off Lewis Hamilton in the closing stages of Sunday’s race at Imola, the belief they will be able to fight with the top two when conditions are right.

“It was tough,” Norris said. “We made the decision to go on the softs. I wasn’t so confident to get the tires working. It’s not an easy track to overtake on – Lewis might say otherwise – but I think it was the right decision.

“Apart from Max’s little moment, I though Charles was going to drive ahead of Max on the restart, as he was off-track. So, didn’t take advantage of that but he had a lot of wheelspin on the restart when Max went, and that’s the fault of the mediums and their decision. We made our decision to go on the softs, I got a good launch, good restart and got ahead of him.

“I pretty much started saving the tires from Lap 1 after the restart, knowing that the last couple of laps were going to be pretty tough. And they were. Especially with Lewis at the end. I think a lot of focus is the last couple of corners, getting the deployment right, using the battery in the right way. So, I was trying to save up as much as possible.

“In the end, I didn’t have enough rear tire out of the last two corners and the chicane to hold him behind but I tried. It was a nice little battle. It’s nice to be racing unusual cars, I guess for us, a Red Bull, a Mercedes, and Ferraris and things like that. It’s nice to be going up against them. Hopefully, we can have some more of that in the future.”

The podium marks a major turnaround in Norris’ mood after he missed out on a top three qualifying result by running marginally wide on his fastest lap in Q3, seeing the time deleted for exceeding track limits and leaving him starting seventh.

“I think apart from Q3 it was a pretty perfect weekend, I want to say,” added Norris. “We improved the car a lot over the first couple of days, from Friday into Saturday, and through the sessions and so on and we didn’t start on the best foot – but we improved a lot.

“I felt like I did a very good job in qualifying. Was the first time I only had to do one run in both Q1 and Q2, so I did good enough laps to save the tires, give myself a good opportunity into Q3 and be pretty close to pole position. and then effectively almost P3 and then get put down to P7.

“It was near-perfect from my side, and the team’s. I think we did a very good job. I was disappointed (on Saturday), so to come back to third after a pretty eventful race for myself and, I’m sure, the others as well, was rewarding for myself, but more importantly, the team.”

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