Explained: Would Lando Norris have caught Max Verstappen?

McLaren boss Andrea Stella breaks down Lando Norris' chase of Max Verstappen at Imola

The podium (L to R): Lando Norris (GBR) McLaren, second; Max Verstappen (NLD) Red Bull Racing, race winner; Charles Leclerc
The podium (L to R): Lando Norris (GBR) McLaren, second; Max Verstappen …

McLaren team principal Andrea Stella is unsure if Lando Norris could have passed Max Verstappen to win the F1 Emilia Romagna Grand Prix.

Red Bull’s Verstappen appeared to be cruising to victory until he struggled with tyres in the final stint, with Norris, who won last time out in Miami, turning in a late charge to challenge for victory.

Norris got within a second of Verstappen on the final lap but fell just short of mounting an overtake on the reigning world champion, prompting suggestions he only needed another lap or two to pull off an overtake.

But Stella does not think Norris overhauling Verstappen would have been as easy as some people made out.

"Well, 63 laps is already many laps," Stella told Sky Sports F1. "Many times you say you would like one lap more.

"It is what it is and also it is Max Verstappen, I am sure he was a bit in trouble but he managed to get the most out of what he had, so well done Max and well done to our two drivers, second and fourth.”

Stella acknowledged that losing too much time in the first stint behind Verstappen ultimately cost McLaren, but praised Norris for becoming “a bit of a master” when it comes to tyre management.

"We actually lost too much time in the first stint behind Max, but we had too much rear degradation and we thought actually today was about watching the mirrors [more] than watching ahead of us," he said.

"After a period on the hard tyres in which we saved the tyres, while Leclerc and Oscar [Piastri] were fighting each other, I think this initial investment paid dividends towards the end of the race for Lando.

"Managing the budget of the tyres was an important factor and we have to say from this point of view Lando has become a bit of a master.

"Oscar paid for some issues we had yesterday in qualifying, otherwise he would’ve been on the podium as well. We take this positive and we look forward with some optimism now."

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