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Lando Norris

Norris pinpoints ‘big difference’ that could end Verstappen reign

Lando Norris feels there is a crucial element that differentiates Max Verstappen and Red Bull to their F1 rivals.

Norris Canada
To news overview © XPBimages

Lando Norris believes there is "a big difference" that could determine whether Max Verstappen continues his dominance of F1 this season.

McLaren has closed the gap on Verstappen and Red Bull this season and is in the hunt for pole positions and grand prix victories alongside Ferrari, whilst Mercedes has again seemingly entered the fray.

That has placed both the three-time F1 champion and his team under pressure, yet Norris feels the pairing has an edge that McLaren must swiftly learn from if it is to close the gap in the drivers' and constructors' championship, and potentially even challenge for the titles.

Norris has highlighted the events of the last race in Canada, in particular, where Verstappen and Red Bull had the edge even though it appeared to be on the back foot for a period.

McLaren's error was pitting the British driver a lap after the initial safety car had been triggered when Logan Sargeant had crashed out in his Williams.

The timing of the safety car gave Norris and McLaren little time to react. Further behind, Red Bull pitted Verstappen, allowing the 26-year-old Dutchman to claim the lead before going on to win. 

The Canadian GP highlighted that more than just a good car is required to win races, with both the driver and the team needing to make as few mistakes as possible. In Montreal, Red Bull and Verstappen made the fewest errors.

"If you think of the safety car, from our side, we should have boxed," said Norris. "We lost the lead, and I lost an opportunity to fight for the win.

"George [Russell] had the quickest car, [he] drove extremely well all weekend, from an outright pace point of view. And if he hadn't made a couple of mistakes - which all drivers do, including Max - probably [he] would have had a chance of winning the race.

"So from that perspective, Max shouldn't have won, yet he still won the race, which just shows that even when he hasn't had the best car and things like that, he still shows what he's capable of doing.

"But we've always known it. It's not simply 'we have just got a better car' and then you just crack on and forget about everything else.

"Now, it's even more important to get the strategy right, to get the smaller things correct, because at the end of the day, when the cars are so similar on pace, those things start to make a big difference."

Norris recognises F1 mistakes more costly than ever

Norris feels that only perfection from a driver and team can defeat Verstappen this season.

In the past, Verstappen has had a margin on the field, ensuring any on-track driver errors, or operational mistakes from the team have been masked. 

For Norris, it means every area of a team's performance during a race has to be at the highest level to emerge victorious.

“Probably for Max over the last four years, three years, he's probably been able to get away with a lot of mistakes, and still easily win, and the team maybe made mistakes and they could still easily win,” said Norris. 

“Let's say he shouldn't have won in Montreal. But he was just the most consistent through the race. Probably, as a team, they made the least mistakes, and as a driver he made the least mistakes, and yet he came out on top.”

Also interesting:

Join Ian Parkes, Samuel Coop and Nick Golding in the latest episode of the RacingNews365 podcast, looking ahead to this weekend's Spanish Grand Prix. 

The trio discuss how significant this weekend is in the title fight, whether Red Bull's advantage will return and if Andrea Kimi Antonelli will now make his F1 debut at just 17 years old. Much, much more is also discussed! 

Rather watch then listen to our podcast? Click here.

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