Lando Norris says he had worked out how to hold off Lewis Hamilton early in the Italian Grand Prix but that the “incredible” McLaren one-two feels more special for the way the team earned it.
Daniel Ricciardo took the lead from Max Verstappen at the start of the race and Norris regained third place from Hamilton after losing out to the Mercedes driver on the opening lap, and proceeded to keep the Mercedes at bay for most of the first stint. A slow stop for Hamilton enabled Norris to regain track position over the world champion before the collision between the two title rivals, and the McLaren driver says he doesn’t mind finishing second to Ricciardo in such a momentous team result.
“I don’t know where to start, I think it’s incredible,” Norris said. “The main thing it means to me is our result as a team — whether I’m second, third or first — it’s that one-two for the team, securing maximum points. It’s such a cool feeling, to be part of this, a bit lost for words in a way.
“I’m happy for myself, for us to execute the race the way we did, the strategy, overtakes, defending. Happy for Daniel and the whole team as it’s a pretty awesome achievement for all of us.
“I had a good warm-up for (Hamilton) yesterday with 18 laps trying to defend from him. I could figure him out quite quickly where he was going to be strong and weak and so on. He was on the hard tire for the majority and I could hold him off easily but the last two or three laps of the stint, the mediums started to drop away so he got past me. We boxed and we undercut him straight away.
“The whole race was stressful, not going to lie — there was not one moment where I thought I could relax and just chill out a little bit, but that made it more special, more worthwhile. To have to really work for it, and get past Charles (Leclerc) at the restart and so on, definitely makes it more worthwhile; so a tough race, maybe made a bit easier in the middle with what happened, but still wasn’t easy from that point on, still had to work hard for it.”
At one stage Norris asked McLaren to tell Ricciardo to speed up as he was following his teammate closely but says he was wary of anything going wrong if he tried to make a move for the win himself.
“I got a bit closer on one lap and I don’t know why I had a few flashes of seeing the incident between Max and Lewis as I saw it in my mirrors, and when I thought maybe I’ll try (to overtake), that kind of was flashing in my head and I thought, ‘Nah maybe this isn’t the wisest decision!’
“So I would have loved to but like I said I think I’m just as happy — as much as I would have loved to have gone for the win, first and second I’m just as happy with. The feeling I get for the team is kind of priority over my own feeling in a way.
“I’m here for many more years, I hope, with McLaren — I feel like I still have an opportunity in the future to go for it but in this instance and moment I was happy just staying where I was.”