F1: McLaren launch car for new season
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A missed chance for Lando Norris at the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix on Sunday saw him take third behind Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton and race winner Max Verstappen, however the Brit has revealed it could’ve been so much more.
Following Verstappen’s mistake on the restart after the race was red flagged, the McLaren driver had a golden opportunity to battle the Red Bull for the race lead, after passing Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc for second.
“There was a big decision I had to make here,” Norris remarked as he reviewed the race live on his Twitch stream.
“We made the decision to go on to the softs, and I think I could have overtaken Max, especially on lap 2 [second lap after the restart]. I could have at least tried, but I wouldn’t have finished on the podium I think if I had have tried.
“I would have killed my tyres and I think Leclerc would have got me,” he added.
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Although McLaren’s prospects are much brighter than they were during their dismissal period with Honda a couple of years ago, it could be a decision Norris may regret in the future.
Had the situations been reversed, it is unlikely that Verstappen would have let the opportunity pass him by, even if it could have cost him a podium later on. Yet, where the Dutch driver’s ruthlessness can pay off in the short-term, ultimately McLaren’s calculated decision looks to have been the better choice in the long-term.
The British outfit face a tight midfield battle for third in the Constructors’ Championship and if they want to try to break into the top two, then consistency will be key if either Mercedes or Red Bull falter.
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Overall, the Bristol-born driver shouldn’t be too disheatened following an impressive weekend. The 21-year-old was able to bounce back from qualifying, where he was left devastated after exceeding track limits and missed out on a top three start.
Norris acknowledged how close he had come to a career-best qualifying, telling his viewers: “Disappointing, it makes me want to cry.”
“What makes it even worse, I was two tenths quicker than Hamilton to the second-to-last corner.”
Yet despite the frustration, Norris was able to put in an incredible performance. He thoroughly outperformed his team-mate Daniel Ricciardo and proved to be a headache for seven-times world champion Hamilton as they duelled in the final stages of the race.
In a mature performance that belies his age, Norris expertly managed to place his car exactly where the Mercedes driver didn’t want him, with Hamilton finding himself struggling to get past despite his clear pace and tyre advantage.
“Against Lewis in a Mercedes, who was obviously a lot quicker than us, wasn’t possible to hold him behind. But I tried you know, I gave it a good shot just not quite,” Norris told Sky Sports F1.
Two top-four finishes see Norris sit third in the Drivers’ Championship on 27 points. It is another strong start to the season for the young driver, who sat in the same position last year after the first two races in Austria.
With the next race in Portimao only a week away, he will be hoping his promising run of form continues as McLaren chase their first F1 win since Jenson Button’s victory at the 2012 Brazilian Grand Prix.
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