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Lando Norris

Norris name-drops surprise McLaren rival around ‘abnormal’ Monaco

Lando Norris has identified a shock rival to McLaren at the Monaco Grand Prix, as he prepares for qualifying at the "abnormal" circuit.

Norris FP1 Monaco
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Lando Norris has listed an interesting rival for McLaren at the Monaco Grand Prix, as he and his team prepares itself for the "abnormal" challenge in the principality.

The 24-year-old felt the Woking team had a "reasonable" first day around the streets of Monte Carlo, but was quick to highlight the pace of Charles Leclerc and Ferrari.

The one-time race winner also singled out Mercedes as a threat, with the eight-times constructors' champions looking more competitive in Monaco than it has in the early part of the season. Lewis Hamilton topped FP1, and was within two-tenths of the leading Leclerc in the qualifying simulation-based FP2 session. 

Therefore, Norris feels his team could be in for a "difficult day" when cars return to the track for FP3 and qualifying.

"We look good out there, but not in the sense of speed," Norris joked in reference to the Ayrton Senna tribute livery McLaren is running this weekend, when asked by F1TV about how the team would match up against Red Bull in Monaco.

"I think we're not bad at all, and it's always tricky around here... I think it's a reasonable first day. Definitely lacking a bit compared to Charles [Leclerc] and Ferrari. Maybe the Mercedes - the Mercedes does seem very quick as well.

"So, I think everyone's tighter, just because it's a small and abnormal track, but we're up there. 

"We have a little bit to find, and I think it's going to be a difficult day, but we're in the fight, so that's the main thing."

The Monaco trade-off

McLaren were in the hunt alongside Mercedes during FP1, with Norris three tenths of a second behind Hamilton. Oscar Piastri was less than half a tenth back from the seven-time drivers' champion.

However, in FP2, Norris ran on used soft tyres, meaning he could only just get within seven-tenths of Leclerc. His team-mate, meanwhile, did not run the quickest of the Pirelli range, setting a lap time over a second off the pace, on medium tyres.

After the session, Norris stated McLaren would focus on multiple things overnight, as it looks to take a step ahead of qualifying, whilst also explaining the intricacies of racing in Monaco.

"It's a few different things, but the main thing you want around here is slow speed grip," he said. 

"So, trying to chance the balance, and get a nice balance to help that, and also just ride - the better the car can go over the bumps, and almost the softer it can feel, the better it can also feel. 

"But there's a trade off - if you try and do that too much, you lose overall performance and vice versa. 

"So, it's complicated and we tried a few things today, so hopefully we can understand it and improve."

Also interesting:

In the latest episode of the RacingNews365.com podcast, Ian Parkes, Samuel Coop and Nick Golding look back at this weekend's Emilia Romagna Grand Prix, where Max Verstappen and Lando Norris went head-to-head for the victory around the famous Imola Circuit as McLaren continue to pile the pressure on Red Bull!

Rather watch than listen to the podcast? Click here.

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