Lando Norris’ crunch verdict on catching Max Verstappen in F1 title fight

“Especially if Mercedes are in the fight, more chance to have a bigger swing of points"

Lando Norris (GBR) McLaren. Formula 1 World Championship, Rd 10, Spanish Grand Prix, Barcelona, Spain, Preparation Day.
Lando Norris (GBR) McLaren. Formula 1 World Championship, Rd 10, Spanish…

Lando Norris insists there is “more chance now” of catching Max Verstappen in the F1 championship.

A fourth title in a row for Verstappen seemed like a formality in the early stages of the season as Red Bull’s domination continued.

But ahead of this weekend’s F1 Spanish Grand Prix, after McLaren’s Norris and Ferrari duo Carlos Sainz and Charles Leclerc have all won races, there is finally the feel of a genuine scrap at every round.

Norris is third in the standings, 63 points behind Verstappen, but was asked about catching him.

“I think it's tough but there's probably more chances and possibilities now,” Norris said.

“Especially if Mercedes are in the fight, more chance to have a bigger swing of points rather than a bad weekend for Max who was third or before or something.

“It could be that it's a fifth or a sixth and if you can be that one guy that wins, within one weekend you can turn quite a bit of points around fairly quickly.

“So, if it goes like that then I would say there's a higher chance.

“There's still going to be a good amount of points. He's just strong in all areas so it's rare that he makes mistakes, it's rare that he messes up qualifying.

“A bit more pressure now, you never know how that changes, and always easier to make mistakes.

“I think it's tough because you can't doubt Max in any area, he doesn't have a weakness outright.

“It's possible but he's going to need a very good car performance, a very consistent performance throughout the whole season.

“As you've seen they've been a little bit more up and down than what we have so we just need to capitalise on when they're down and try and be the one car that's at the front and on the up.”

Max 'probably been able to get away with a lot of mistakes'

Norris has been fighting to win each of the past three grands prix.

He admitted encouragement and frustration at a pair of P2s and a P4.

“Both. I think you have to look at the positives because I think we're still, let's say, fresh off consecutive bad seasons,” he said.

“So I think we definitely have to remind ourselves of how bad it's been and the progress we've made.

“I think it's easy to forget that very quickly. I think that's good motivation for everyone is the knowledge of last year, how bad we were versus where we are now.

“I think that's encouraging for everyone in the team. So reminding everyone of that, I think, is important.

“But at the same time, then everything is relative. Still, whether you're fighting for first or tenth, when you have knowledge of you could have made better decisions, you could have potentially won a race, and the win means even more.

“When you're fighting for tenth and it might be for ninth, then you're like, OK, it's one of two points. But when it's second and you're like, I should have won a race, you're freaking winning a freaking race.

“So it hurts pretty more. But at the same time, encouraged, because having the knowledge of we should have won just kind of makes us more motivated to go into the next race weekend thinking to try and make up for the last one.”

Norris insists that more than just a very good is required to fight for victory at every F1 grand prix.

“Yes, 100%. Especially now, probably for Max over the last four years, three years, he's probably been able to get away with a lot of mistakes and still easily win,” he said.

“And the team maybe made mistakes and he could still easily win.

“Let's say he shouldn't have won last weekend in Montreal, but he was probably just the most consistent through the race, probably made as a team the least mistakes, as a driver the least mistakes and came out on top.

“If you think the safety car from our side, we should have boxed, we lost the lead on that, lost an opportunity to fight for the win.

“George had the quickest car, was driving extremely well all weekend.

“From an outright pace point of view, and if he didn't make a couple of the mistakes [that] he did do, which all drivers do, including Max, probably also should have had a chance of winning the race.

“So that perspective, you kind of think Max shouldn't have won and he still won the race, which just shows that even when he hasn't had the best car and things like that, he still kind of shows what he's capable of doing.

“But we've always known it, it's not simply we just got a better car and then you just crack on and forget about everything else.

“Now it's actually even more important to get the strategy right, to get the smaller things correct, because at the end of the day when the cars are so similar on pace, those things start to make a big difference.”

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