Mercedes’ George Russell tipped the McLaren driver to potentially challenge the Red Bulls at the front of the grid at Suzuka given their MCL60 has been competitive in high-speed corners.
“Lando’s potentially one of the favourites for this weekend with their high-speed performance in the McLaren. But all the question marks are on Red Bull,” Russell said on Thursday.
Informed of Russell’s prediction, Norris, who finished second in Singapore, laughed: “Has he seen the rest of the season at all? Has he been watching the races?”
Norris finished third-fastest in both practice sessions on Friday and ended the day 0.464s off Max Verstappen’s chart-topping FP2 time.
Asked if he felt good in the car, the Briton replied: “No, not really. The pace was there. The pace has been pretty good today, probably one of the closest times we’ve been to Red Bull and the front on a Friday.
“So it’s encouraging from a pace point of view but the car feels pretty all over the place. I think it probably does for the majority. It’s very low grip, I don’t think it’s just us in particular it’s just a handful.
“If we can just try and calm it down a little bit and get the balance together I think we can have a good day tomorrow. The pace is good, just difficult to drive.”
And Norris doubts challenging for pole position will be a realistic aim for McLaren come qualifying.
“I doubt it’s going to be pole,” he said. “The Red Bulls are just doing normal Red Bulls at the minute.
“I think we aren’t far away. I would say we normally get a bit closer when we go to low fuel and turn the engines up. I think challenging for pole is quite a big task and probably a bit too far.
“But we have to try and challenge Mercedes, the Ferraris and Astons. I think that will be our battle tomorrow.”