Tougher to repeat Miami win, but McLaren has pace at Imola – Norris

Lando Norris believes McLaren has the pace to win the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix but faces a tougher task than in Miami due to the nature of the Imola circuit.

Miami saw Norris pick up his first victory in Formula 1 despite starting from fifth place, finding clear air to extend his first stint with impressive lap times and then taking advantage of a safety car period. Although he’ll start second to Max Verstappen in Imola after teammate Oscar Piastri was penalized, Norris believes the fact it’s so hard to overtake on the high-speed venue makes it a tougher challenge to beat Verstappen than two weeks ago.

“We were very good yesterday, 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. It’s close, like it was today.


“We were confident [on Friday]; the car felt good. It was also a bit colder, so maybe if that kind of came back to us, that would be nice. We had a good day yesterday. The whole weekend, the car has been performing well and the team have been doing a good job. I don’t expect us [to have an easy day] tomorrow.

“I think to overtake here is pretty much impossible, so that’s our first task. 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. The overtaking and the strategy is probably a bit harder than what was in Miami.”

Norris was third quickest in qualifying before Piastri got his penalty, and still just 0.091s adrift of Verstappen, admitting he felt the lap time was in his car on Saturday.

“Car’s been great all weekend, to be honest,” he said. “I think since FP1 we’ve been feeling pretty good. Frustrating — I mean, anytime you’re within one tenth of pole, you always feel like, ‘Where was that last little bit?’ I think it was definitely in there, but it’s a difficult track to nail. I think I did a good job.

“I was happy with my laps, so I think both Oscar and Max did a very good job today. But it’s such a quick and difficult circuit. You kind of have to commit. You can’t try and do things. You have to just commit to it and kind of see how you end up on the other side.

“So it’s all about timing, and as soon as you misjudge something a little bit, it can go wrong pretty quickly. It’s an exciting [qualifying] lap. I think we did a good job from a team side. I feel like I did a good job today — strong performance from McLaren and excited for tomorrow.”

Story originally appeared on Racer