Formula 1 Racing

Norris’s “insane” pace made him a threat without Safety Car

Safety Car, Miami International Autodrome, 2024

Max Verstappen suspects Lando Norris would have been a threat in yesterday’s Miami Grand Prix even if the Safety Car hadn’t helped him.

Norris took the lead of the race by delaying his pit stop until later than his rivals. He lucked in when the Safety Car was deployed, allowing him to make his pit stop and rejoin at the front of the field ahead of Verstappen.

However Norris had gained on Verstappen while lapping on the medium tyre compound earlier in the race.

“I didn’t really see him in the beginning because I was more focused on Oscar [Piastri] behind and the Ferraris,” Verstappen explained. “But then I boxed and I heard the pace that he was doing on the used Mediums.

“I was like, ‘I mean, that’s quite insane’. I would have never been able to do so.

“So I knew even if there wouldn’t have been a Safety Car that when he would come out on fresh tyres that I would have had to push on quite a lot to be able to keep him behind.”

Although the Safety Car worked against Verstappen, he believes he would still have had a chance to win if Norris’ car hadn’t been so quick.

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“The Safety Car came [and] it’s racing: Sometimes it works for you, sometimes it works against you.

“Even with that Safety Car, we still had all the opportunities to win today, but we’re clearly not quick enough after that Safety Car. Once I realised that, I just settled in and tried to come home in second.”

Norris “was just miles faster at the end,” admitted Verstappen, who finished the race over seven seconds behind the McLaren.

Verstappen said he struggled with a lack of grip. “I was just quite poor, I would say, in the race,” he said. “But also, I never really felt comfortable the whole weekend with it. I think on the medium it was still okay-ish, but on the hard it was quite a disaster.

“Just low grip, very tricky balance in the low-speed [corners]. I couldn’t really lean on the rear while in the high-speed I was understeering a lot.

“When you have these two issues, you cannot also balance it out because you’re chasing two different things. So yeah, just driving to the grip that I had and it was not a lot.”

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