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Lando Norris

Norris: The 'four holes' that cost McLaren driver Imola victory

A case of what might have been for Lando Norris but for a surprising weather mis-read.

Norris podium Imola
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Lando Norris has revealed that if given the chance to re-run his Emilia Romagna Grand Prix in a bid to secure victory he would have made a major front-wing adjustment after McLaren misjudged the weather.

Norris came within 0.725s of defeating Max Verstappen and scoring what would have been back-to-back triumphs following his rousing success in Miami a fortnight ago to finally end his long wait for an F1 win.

That followed a stirring surge over the final 16 laps as his tyres came to life and those on Verstappen's Red Bull were starting to fade as a static gap of around six seconds suddenly dwindled.

Instead, Verstappen held on for the 59th victory of his F1 career, stretching his championship advantage to 48 points over Charles Leclerc, who was third in his Ferrari, with Norris now 60 points adrift.

Asked what he would have done differently to beat Verstappen to the chequered flag, he replied: "I would probably take out like four holes of front wing and do the same again. As Max said, once the tyres are where they are, you can't actually do a lot."

Norris revealed the front wing was set up based on McLaren's read of the weather, which proved to be inaccurate. Ahead of the weekend, rain was forecast for Sunday, only for the sun to shine, ramping up the temperatures.

"We were expecting it to be a little bit colder than it was," said Norris. "So we set up the car more for colder conditions rather than hot, and I think I paid the price in general."

The decision impacted the performance of the tyres, notably the second stint when Norris switched from mediums to hards, and instead of catching Verstappen, he started to fall into the clutches of the chasing Leclerc.

"It's why I had to do so much of an introduction to the tyres and bring them up so gently and look after them," explained Norris. "Because if I didn't, I would have fallen off a cliff like the others.

"So my only chance was to drive my race, and that meant being under pressure from Charles for more laps than I would have liked. But as soon as I cleared the traffic and got back into my own rhythm, then I felt good with the car.

"The tyres came back to me and I could push and I was happy. So from then on, the pace was amazing."

Norris insisted what unfolded was "a good sign" for the remainder of the season as "it's always a good thing to have good race pace", although there is a downside.

"Clearly when it's hotter, and there's more degradation to the rear tyres, we start to struggle a lot more," he said. "This is something we know, and maybe we could have prepared for a little bit more."

Overall, however, Norris concluded: "Nevertheless, I'm happy with the outcome."

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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RESULTS 2024 F1 Spanish Grand Prix - Qualifying