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Lando Norris

'Stupid' to bet against Verstappen rebound - Norris

Lando Norris will start the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix as nearest challenger to Max Verstappen on the front-row.

Norris Verstappen Quali Imola
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People who doubted a Max Verstappen bounce back in Emilia Romagna Grand Prix qualifying are "a bit stupid," according to Lando Norris.

Verstappen endured a terrible Friday at Imola, placing only seventh in FP2 as Red Bull struggled with the RB20, although he recovered to snatch pole position by less than a tenth from Oscar Piastri and Norris in the McLarens.

Piastri was subsequently hit with a five-place grid drop for impeding Kevin Magnussen, meaning Norris will start on the front-row alongside the driver he beat to victory last time out in Miami. 

Despite McLaren looking stronger than Red Bull throughout practice, Norris believes it was "stupid" to count Verstappen out of the hunt for pole. 

"It's almost impossible to overtake here, especially when the gaps are so small," Norris told media including RacingNews365.

"You always try and take advantage of other people's mistakes and struggles, as bad as it sounds, you try and take advantage of those times. 

"Max hasn't had the smoothest weekend, but I think if anyone doubted Red Bull or him coming back and doing a good job in qualifying, they're a bit stupid.

"We expected them to be back on track, it is annoying to miss out to him once again in qualifying, but we're close and I think we're happy as a team with how we've all performed.

"So if we can continue and have a strong race pace, like we had in Miami, then I think we can all look forward to a good race."

McLaren's race pace in practice caught the eye with Mercedes' Toto Wolff particularly impressed by the showing of Norris and Piastri, but Norris was keen to downplay this.

"We were very good, but also in Imola when you see others, we didn't do the quickest laps in these long runs," Norris said. 

"We were probably the most consistent, but a lot of others had traffic and things like that, so it's close, like it was today. 

"We were confident, you know, the car felt good. It was also a bit colder, so maybe if that kind of came back to us, that would be nice. 

"The whole weekend, the car has been performing well and the team have been doing a good job. But I don't expect us just to have like an easy day. 

"I think to overtake here is pretty much impossible, like I said. So that's our first task. 

"But at the same time, if we can pressure them and kind of keep on their toes throughout the whole race and have a performance like Miami, then I think we can be optimistic, of course."

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