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McLaren

Ex-F1 driver ‘very optimistic’ over McLaren chances in Imola

McLaren is looking to continue the momentum from its victory last time out in Miami in Imola this weekend. Can it take back-to-back wins?

Norris win Miami 2024
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Ex-Formula 1 driver Karun Chandhok has backed McLaren for a competitive weekend in Imola this weekend following its victory in Miami.

Lando Norris took his first career win as McLaren returned to the top step of the podium, defeating rivals Red Bull.

The Woking-based squad introduced a major upgrade package last time out with Red Bull set to respond with new parts this weekend in Italy.

However, Chandhok has backed Norris to continue his momentum and offer Red Bull a renewed challenge for the weekend ahead.

“He [Norris] always been good around Imola,” Chandhok told the Sky F1 podcast. 

“I seem to remember he got his lap time deleted one year but he was devastatingly fast in qualifying, ended up coming through in the race to get a podium anyway. 

“I think the upgraded car they had in Miami will work well in Imola, it’s fast and flowing corners again. Miami, on paper, wasn’t a track that should have suited them. 

“There were a lot of slow corners, yet the car was quick. So I’m very optimistic that McLaren will be in a good place when we get to Imola this weekend.”

'Nobody in F1 sits still'

Other teams, including Ferrari, are also set to debut fresh upgrades in Imola, the first European round of the season.

While Chandhok is not anticipating a title fight to form at the head of the field, he believes it will become more common for Max Verstappen to be defeated.

“We know Ferrari will run an upgrade, they did a filming day and a whole bunch of pictures got - I don’t know if leaked is the right word - but there were pictures on the internet,” he said. 

“We’ve heard from Helmut Marko that Red Bull is bringing quite a big update for this weekend as well. Nobody in F1 sits still, I expect Mercedes will bring something, Aston Martin will probably have something.

“I don’t think anyone is going to beat Max for the championship, but what we want to see is other people pick off a handful of races. We don’t want to see him win all but three races [like 2023].

“We want to see other people in the fight at certain circuits and circumstances. So this is a big weekend for F1 in 2024 on a whole.

“This will set the tone for the next run of European races coming up.”

Also interesting:

In the latest episode of the RacingNews365.com podcast, Ian Parkes, Samuel Coop and Nick Golding look ahead at this weekend's Emilia Romagna Grand Prix. The trio discuss last season's cancelled race at Imola, whether McLaren's Miami pace is genuine and if Mercedes teenage sensation Andrea Kimi Antonelli will make his debut before he turns 18.

Want to watch the podcast instead of just listening? Check it out here.

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