Fri. Feb 23rd, 2024

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Despite leading in Austin early on, McLaren’s Lando Norris insists he’s very happy with the team’s results over the weekend at the United States Grand Prix

Despite leading in Austin early on, McLaren’s Lando Norris insists he’s very happy with the team’s results over the weekend at the United States Grand Prix

Lando Norris became the first McLaren driver since Jenson Button in 2011 to record four consecutive podiums with second place on Sunday at the United States Grand Prix.

Norris has become one of the most highly-rated drivers on the grid in recent years and has largely maximised his car’s potential this season.

The 23-year-old is closing in on an unwanted record though – the most podiums without a win – as he finished in the top three for the 12th time in his career to go just one behind Nick Heidfeld, who holds the unfortunate record.

McLaren’s development has been very impressive in 2023 as they leapfrogged from the back of the midfield at the start of the season, to Norris leading the United States Grand Prix on merit until the halfway point of the race when Max Verstappen overtook him.

The car is particularly strong on tracks which feature high-speed corners such as Silverstone, Suzuka and the Losail International Circuit in Qatar.

But, with four events remaining, Norris feels none of the tracks in Mexico, Brazil, Las Vegas or Abu Dhabi will play to McLaren’s strengths.

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Highlights from the United States Grand Prix at the Circuit of the Americas

Highlights from the United States Grand Prix at the Circuit of the Americas

Asked by Sky Sports F1 if he can win a race this season, Norris answered: “Unlikely. Not the answer I want to tell myself or anyone but it’s unlikely. Qatar was our best opportunity. I guess that’s why I was so tough on myself back then because I knew it was kind of our only opportunity.

“We have good tracks and bad tracks, it’s just we have our very, very strong tracks. We still have some good ones I think but not ones where we think we can compete with the others.

“Some fun ones. Vegas is still a big question mark but there are no high-speed circuits which is where we are very strong. It’s where we have always been strong and we are almost on par with Red Bull in the high-speed corners, it’s just the slow speed is letting us down at the minute.

“We understand it and know it’s our area to focus on and improve on. When it comes together, probably not this year but next year, I think we can do some good things.”

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Ted Kravitz is in the paddock to review all the biggest stories from the 2023 United States Grand Prix

Ted Kravitz is in the paddock to review all the biggest stories from the 2023 United States Grand Prix

Half of the 2023 F1 field have won a Grand Prix in their career and the next new F1 race winner will be the 114th in the championship’s history.

Given the pace of the McLaren, Norris or team-mate Oscar Piastri are favourites to be the next driver to land a maiden win.

In the press conference on Sunday, Verstappen asked Norris why he doesn’t rate his chances more highly for Abu Dhabi, alluding to the Yas Marina Circuit’s fast final sectors since changes were made to the track in 2021.

Norris replied: “Maybe Abu Dhabi, you never know. We’ll see. I don’t think there are any good ones for us coming up. I think our best have gone.

“I just want to be hopeful that we can do good results and I think we can still fight for podiums but these guys (Red Bull and Mercedes) are too quick for me.

“I would say they have been quicker all weekend on average. We just about keep it up in qualifying when we have that new rubber and super low fuel and things like that. We can look decent, but I think realistically we’re not at that level as a general package with these guys. So, not great ones coming up, but Vegas, Abu Dhabi are probably the better ones.”

Could Norris have won the United States GP?

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Lewis Hamilton edges past Lando Norris to re take second place at the Austin Grand Prix

Lewis Hamilton edges past Lando Norris to re take second place at the Austin Grand Prix

Norris got the perfect start from second place as he overtook Charles Leclerc off the line and pushed hard in an attempt to open up a buffer over Hamilton and Verstappen, who were stuck behind the Ferraris.

The McLaren driver responded to an undercut threat from Verstappen in the first round of pit stops but was caught by the three-time world champion and lost the lead on Lap 28.

He fought hard to keep Hamilton at bay in the final stint by defending aggressively, including a hard jink left into Turn 1, but lost the position. However, Hamilton was disqualified for failing the FIA plank wear test, so Norris inherited second place.

“I’m very pleased. If before the weekend you said we had the result we have had…I wouldn’t have not believed it, but we didn’t expect it in a way,” said Norris.

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Max Verstappen catches Lando Norris by surprise by diving down the inside on Turn 12, taking the lead of the United States GP

Max Verstappen catches Lando Norris by surprise by diving down the inside on Turn 12, taking the lead of the United States GP

“I’m very happy. From leading a race to Lap 25 or 30 almost, you are always like, ‘could I have done a little bit more’. But when you see how much I struggled compared to Lewis, how many let’s say setbacks Lewis had – two very bad pit stops, I had two very good pit stops, I didn’t have to go through the field.

“I could control it and execute a perfect race and we still didn’t have the pace, so not a surprise. I think we have known it all weekend that we had not quite what we wanted to compete against them.

“We expected it. We are still very happy with the progress we have made from where we were at the beginning of the season. Even for the team, they are happy but there is still something inside like ‘oh we have missed out’.

“I think you have got to remind yourself of where we were and the progress we have made in a short amount of time. I’m still excited because we know we have a lot more to come, the team are doing an excellent job in every area and we are getting closer and closer.”

When to watch the Mexico City GP live only on Sky Sports F1

Thursday 26 October
9pm: Drivers’ Press Conference

Friday 27 October
7pm: Mexico City GP Practice One
8:45pm: The F1 Show
10:45pm: Mexico City GP Practice Two (also on Sky Sports Main Event)

Saturday 28 October
6.15pm: Mexico City GP Practice Three
9pm: Mexico City GP Qualifying build-up (also on Sky Sports Main Event)
10pm: Mexico City GP Qualifying (also on Sky Sports Main Event)

Sunday 29 October
6.30pm: Grand Prix Sunday Mexico City GP build-up (also on Sky Sports Main Event)
8pm: The MEXICO CITY GRAND PRIX (also on Sky Sports Main Event)
10pm: Chequered Flag: Mexico City GP

F1 heads straight to Mexico for the middle leg of the Americas triple header. Watch the whole Mexico City Grand Prix weekend live on Sky Sports F1 from Friday, with Sunday’s race at 8pm. Stream F1 on Sky Sports with NOW

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