Formula 1 Racing

McLaren had superior pace before Verstappen’s damage in Miami

Lando Norris, McLaren, Imola, 2024

Max Verstappen’s car damage wasn’t the reason McLaren were quicker than Red Bull in Miami, says Lando Norris.

Red Bull revealed after the race Verstappen damaged the floor of his car when he went off the track at the chicane and hit a bollard.

Norris took advantage of a Safety Car appearance later in the race to take the lead and win. He pulled seven seconds clear of Verstappen over the final laps, but says his McLaren already showed its pace was superior.

“We had an upgrade there and it definitely helped us,” said Norris. “We seemed good there, even if we had no upgrade, I think we still would have been decent, but maybe not quite as quick.

“I know Max had damage and all of this, and people like to use that, but even before he had damage, we were still quicker than him by a fairly big chunk.”

Norris spent the early portion of the race stuck behind Verstappen’s team mate Sergio Perez. Once the second Red Bull pitted on lap 17 Norris was able to lap more quickly and got closer to Verstappen’s pace.

The McLaren driver said he could have taken pole position for the first of the weekend’s races. He set the quickest time of qualifying in the second round but couldn’t repeat the time in Q3.

“We were there because we had good pace,” said Norris. “I feel like we should have been on pole at least on Friday afternoon, maybe not Saturday. I think that’s where we deserve to be.”

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Now McLaren have closed the gap to the leading teams, Norris is eager to gain more experience of racing at the front.

“We’re getting closer. I know as soon as we can attack some of these issues that we have, like I know we can, it’s as simple as that.

“We’re close. Sometimes we’re one or two tenths off. And as much as that is, that’s a little bit in two or three corners on the circuit and we’re there, we can be on pole and we can challenge for a race win.

“As much as some people might doubt it, we’re close, but we know that other people are improving and that kind of thing. It’s not an easy task to keep going at it. With the progress we’re making, with the developments that we’ve had, there’s no reason to say no [we can’t win].

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“But I do know it’s a whole other task to do it consistently, to do it every weekend, and when you are there, to deliver under pressure every time in qualifying and races.

“To battle for these positions more…

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