Norris: McLaren can fight Red Bull for wins this season

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Norris: McLaren can fight Red Bull for wins this season

Lando Norris says McLaren’s performance at the Chinese Grand Prix provided “more evidence” that he can claim his maiden Formula 1 victory during the 2024 season.

The Brit finished second to Red Bull’s Max Verstappen in Shanghai, exceeding the low expectations he had for McLaren’s long-run pace going into the race.

Verstappen, who leads the world championship as he seeks a fourth successive drivers’ title, has won 21 of F1’s last 23 races, making it very difficult for the rest of the grid to claim victories.

Norris is also yet to claim an F1 Sprint race victory, a failure that was highlighted by his then-rookie team-mate Oscar Piastri triumphing over the shortened format in Qatar last year.

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The best of the action from an eventful Chinese Grand Prix

“I have already said it, I don’t need any more confidence. There’s more evidence [from China],” Norris told Sky Sports F1.

“I said it at the beginning of the year that I think we can fight against Red Bull and we’ll be able to get a win this year.

“It’s not going to come easy. I don’t think it will come for a while, but right day, right time, good conditions, things which suit our car a little bit more – 100 per cent I have the faith in the team and I have the faith in my ability to be able to pull it off.

“But it does need to be right place, right time. I don’t think on average we’re close enough for the time being. But I want to believe.”

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Fernando Alonso’s position is snatched away by Sergio Perez, shortly followed by Norris who bumps the Aston Martin driver down to fourth

In earning the 15th podium of his career in China, Norris extended his record as the F1 driver to have had the most top-three finishes without claiming a victory, having surpassed Nick Heidfeld’s 13 when coming third in Australia last month.

Norris’ total also matches the highest number of podiums a driver has ever claimed before going on to win a race. Mika Hakkinen, Jean Alesi, Eddie Irvine and Patrick Depailler each appeared on the podium 15 times before their first victory.

The 24-year-old has often struggled to hide his disappointment when opportunities have been missed, but says he is attempting to change his mental approach.

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A sports crossover see’s Chelsea’s Levi Colwill and Robert Sanchez visit Norris at the McLaren Technology Centre to go head to head at a sim racing challenge

“It’s not often I have faith in something, whether it’s myself or my abilities or whatever like that sometimes,” Norris added.

“But I’m trying to change, trying to do better and one of those things is having more confidence in what I can and what we can achieve, and one of them is by saying, ‘I think we can win a race this year’.”

McLaren confirm upgrades for Miami

Norris’ hopes are set to be boosted by the arrival of McLaren’s first significant upgrade package at the Miami Grand Prix, live on Sky Sports from May 3-5.

McLaren team principal Andrea Stella admitted before the start of the season that the Woking squad were behind where they wanted to be with the development of the MCL38, but confirmed in China that the upgrades will “finally” arrive in Florida.

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Norris felt McLaren exceeded their expectations after claiming second place in China and feels that his first race win will come this season

“These upgrades will also include some attempts to improve tyre degradation, so we will try and see if we can take a step forward,” Stella said.

“Considering the amount of improvement we should do to get closer to some of our competitors, I would say that we need more than one round of upgrades in terms of helping the behaviour of the tyres.

“But for everything, this is kind of constant development. You never assume that that’s good enough when it comes to keeping the tyres in the right operating window.”

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An intense end to the Sprint Qualifying race saw Norris take pole position from Lewis Hamilton right at the death

Given Stella’s pre-season warning, the fact McLaren have been relatively competitive to this point is a promising sign.

“Certainly the next [upgrade] will be another interesting one from a tyre point of view.

“Especially if in Miami we have high temperatures like we had previously, so that track becomes quite a bit rear limited; a lot of traction with low-speed corners and then acceleration.”

Swap the early alarms for prime-time evening viewing as Formula 1 next makes its first of three visits to the USA in 2024, with the Miami GP on May 3-5. Steam every F1 race and more with a NOW Sports Month Membership – No contract, cancel anytime

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