McLaren went into the race at the Circuit Paul Ricard on the backfoot following a disappointing qualifying showing with Norris qualifying eighth, while teammate Daniel Ricciardo could only manage tenth.

Impressive race pace combined with a long first stint allowed Norris to get past both Ferraris, Pierre Gasly and Ricciardo into fifth.

Remarkably, it’s the sixth time in seven races Norris has finished in the top five as he maintained fourth in the drivers’ championship ahead of Mercedes’ Valtteri Bottas.

“We overachieved today,” Norris said. “I was not really expecting to be finishing fifth and sixth for the team and for me fifth. Especially lap one was pretty bad for me, or the start really. I had a bad shift to second or third gear and I lost quite a few positions.

“Not perfect but we just did a good job with the strategy. We looked after the tires nicely. And it worked out for us. I'm a bit surprised but I’m happy. We will take it. Good points for us, so a good weekend.”

Norris enjoyed a tight battle with Gasly, with the Frenchman defending the position by running off the track at Turn 1, leading Norris to complain over team radio.

Reflecting on his battle with the AlphaTauri driver, Norris explained: “I need to look at it from the on boards and stuff. It is tricky. I don’t want to comment too much. We are racing and things happen. The fact that he also ended up completely off the track is the bad part about it. He forced me off but he even went off.

“Maybe he was a bit over-aggressive and he needs to do a better job next time. But a lot of what he did was fine. It was just that final bit he was trying too hard. It is racing and I think as long as he does not do it again I am happy.”

Ricciardo enjoyed one of his stronger races for McLaren, finishing sixth.

The Australian admits he struggled for pace at times but was happy to see his team pull clear of Ferrari in the constructors’ championship.

“For us to be the best of the midfield today, when we started eighth and 10th and finished fifth and sixth, it is really the race we hoped for, but I’m not sure we expected it like that,” Ricciardo added. “Especially seeing Ferrari out of the points, it was a big day for the team.

“It was a better weekend for me for sure. So happy with that. The car was a bit of a handful in the race, but everyone else was struggling more and more. So it was something that we could take advantage of, but it was fun. I had fun with some battles and enjoyed it.

“A little bit of chat on the radio and then at the end I said please no more because I could see Gasly coming and I needed full concentration.”