The 21-year-old Briton scored a sensational shock pole position in a thrilling rain-affected qualifying at Sochi having gambled on slick tyres with the track rapidly drying out.

Norris beat the Ferrari of Carlos Sainz and George Russell’s Williams to grab pole after Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton could only set the fourth-best time after crashing twice in a dramatic end to Q3.

And now Norris is aiming to convert his maiden pole into a breakthrough grand prix win, though he acknowledges he will have his work cut out.

“Do I think we can win? I would love to answer,” Norris said after qualifying. “I will try my best and I will go for it. I believe we can, there’s an opportunity for it.

“But Mercedes are still as quick as they have been all season. This is probably one of their best circuits of the whole season. So it’s going to be a good challenge, but I’m up for it.”

The result comes two weeks after Daniel Ricciardo led home Norris in a 1-2 at the Italian Grand Prix to end McLaren’s near-decade-long winning drought in F1.

“After last weekend what do you expect? Another race win for McLaren would be lovely,” Norris added.

“I don’t expect so, I think Mercedes are a long way up the road from us and Red Bull probably similar.

“I think we have decent pace. We saw [on Friday] that the cars are in a good position, in the wet now and also in the dry.

“[It’s] a long run down to Turn 1 or Turn 2, whatever you want to say, so I have to look forward to that and make sure I prepare for that well.

“But I think either conditions I look forward to, we can score some good points tomorrow, we can have a good race, because we are in the best position possible.”


McLaren team principal Andreas Seidl believes Norris will have a much harder time keeping Hamilton’s Mercedes behind despite managing to halt the seven-time world champion for sustained periods last time out in Italy.

Mercedes is unbeaten in Russia having won every single race at the Sochi Autodrom since it joined the F1 calendar in 2014.

“When we have normal dry conditions, especially Mercedes was in a different league I would say,” Seidl admitted.

“This is a track they are historically quite strong and they’ve shown that [n Friday]. So I guess it will be very difficult to keep especially Lewis behind, not being far away from us.

“At the same time you’ve seen at previous races if you start ahead there’s always a chance to do something great and that’s what we want to try again, without getting too focused on the win.

“We will prepare this race again similar to how we have done all season. We know we have a strong team in terms of executing the races, strategy, in terms of pit stops, we have two strong drivers, and we will have a go again.”