Norris denies 'friendship' theory after Hamilton, Verstappen F1 battle

Lando Norris has rubbished suggestions that his friendship with Max Verstappen leads him to race the F1 world champion differently to his other rivals.
(L to R): Lando Norris (GBR) McLaren with Max Verstappen (NLD) Red Bull Racing on the drivers' parade. Formula 1 World
(L to R): Lando Norris (GBR) McLaren with Max Verstappen (NLD) Red Bull…

The McLaren driver was accused of letting Verstappen past too easily in last year's United States Grand Prix, before putting up a greater fight in his ultimately unsuccessful attempts to keep Lewis Hamilton’s Mercedes behind in the battle for second place. 

Speaking to Motorsport, Norris explained his thinking behind his approach to racing Verstappen and Hamilton in Austin. 

“I think one of those areas where I’ve done a good job this year is by reading the situations that I’m in, knowing who I’m racing against and who I’m not,” Norris said. 

“I know it’s a race at the end of the day, but the likelihood of losing a position to Max in Austin, and how I raced Lewis versus how I raced Max, in the end I kind of knew I was going to lose positions to both of them.

“That’s not a bad attitude, that’s just being realistic and honest about the situations I’m in. 

“The chance of keeping Max behind was basically zero. He was way too quick, his tyre degradation - I don’t know if anyone saw this year - was way better than everyone.”

Lando Norris (GBR) McLaren MCL60 and Lewis Hamilton (GBR) Mercedes AMG F1 W14 battle for position. Formula 1 World
Lando Norris (GBR) McLaren MCL60 and Lewis Hamilton (GBR) Mercedes AMG F1…

Norris added: “There’s no point ruining the longevity of your race trying to race one person that has a 99% chance of beating you because he’s in a quicker car. 

“When Lewis overtook me [in Austin] it was with six laps to go or something. He was on way fresher tyres, so still maybe not the best reason to race against him, but there was a lot more of a chance of keeping him behind potentially than there ever was with Max.

“If I’d raced Max, I would have used a lot more tyres because he was a lot quicker. I only would have hurt my ability to extend a stint or only compromised my own race more than benefitted it.

“I think that was just one of the cases where I’ve done more often good than not on choosing my battles.”

And Norris insisted his friendship with Verstappen makes him even more determined to beat his rival. 

“Would I have loved to be more forceful and put on a better defence? Absolutely,” he said. 

“Like, why would I not? I love racing and that is what I want to do. I don’t want to ever give a position up to anyone! Especially not Max!”

“People on the outside are too quick to judge again why I wouldn’t [race Verstappen hard]. 

“[They say], ‘ah it’s because he’s friends with Max’ and all of that stuff. Which couldn’t have anything less to do with it.

“If anything, it makes me want to beat someone more if I’m friends with them than if I’m not."

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