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McLaren boss gives Norris advice for race start with title contenders

Lando Norris will start the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix directly behind Max Verstappen and Lewis Hamilton.

McLaren team boss Andreas Seidl wants Lando Norris to treat the start of the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix like any other, as he prepares to line up directly behind title contenders Max Verstappen and Lewis Hamilton.

Norris took a surprise third in Saturday's qualifying session at the Yas Marina Circuit, ahead of both Ferrari drivers, Red Bull's Sergio Perez and Mercedes' Valtteri Bottas.

He admitted immediately afterwards to feeling "nervous" about the prospect of being so close to Verstappen and Hamilton, who are level on points and going head-to-head for the 2021 crown.

"Do the same as you always do"

Following these comments, Seidl has warned Norris against overthinking the situation when the lights go out.

"I think whenever you are in such situations, the most important thing is to just do the same as you always do," Seidl told media, including RacingNews365.com.

"If you try to be too cautious, for example, going into the first corners, or you try to orchestrate something, you take this intuitive feeling that the drivers are having, or the experience they are having, away from them, then it starts to get dangerous."

With McLaren all but resigned to fourth in the Constructors' Championship, after Ferrari's recent improvements, Seidl has set Norris the target of securing fifth in the Drivers' standings - currently, Charles Leclerc sits four points ahead, and Carlos Sainz 4.5 points behind.

He added: "In the end, the objective is clear that we want to score another good result for us as a team, and we want to get back in P5 in the Drivers' Championship with Lando. In order to do that, we need a good result, and that's how we approach it."

"I don't want to ruin anything"

Norris expanded on his post-qualifying comments to make clear that he will go for any opportunity that arises at the start of the race, while keeping in mind what's at stake for both Verstappen and Hamilton.

"Of course, I've got to respect that they're going for a championship, and you don't want to harm anything that's going on there," said Norris.

"I guess you don't want to take any excessive risk. You know what they're fighting for, and I know what I'm fighting for. At the same time, we can still race. I'm allowed to overtake them and can still race against them. If I have the car to overtake, I can still overtake.

"There's a lot of responsibility for me, a lot of responsibility for them. They have things to lose, I have things to gain. But I don't want to ruin anything. I don't want to be the guy that gets too involved.

"Realistically, I know I'm not racing them. I just need to pick wisely my battles."

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RN365 News dossier F1 2021 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix

The latest news about the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix straight from the Yas Marina Circuit.