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Lando Norris confident McLaren will challenge Red Bull after maiden win
F1 Sport

Lando Norris confident McLaren will challenge Red Bull after maiden win

Lando Norris returns to racing after his first Formula One win confident he and his McLaren team are in a position to begin a challenge for the world title against Max Verstappen.

Norris took his first F1 victory at the 110th attempt at the last round in Miami, seeing off Verstappen in a car that, with the upgrades McLaren had applied at the race, was quickest on track even before the world ­champion’s Red Bull sustained damage.

Speaking in the buildup to this weekend’s Emilia Romagna Grand Prix at Imola, buoyed by the car’s performance and the progress the team were making, Norris felt that he was in a position to take the fight to ­Verstappen, who has dominated in 2024.

“Does it give me more hope that I can challenge them? 100%,” he said. “We had an upgrade in Miami and it helped us but even without the upgrade we would have been good there.”

Norris trails Verstappen by 53 points in the world championship, with six rounds completed and F1 entering the European season at Imola, a circuit where the McLaren is expected to be strong and where Norris believed they would again show their form.

“We are getting closer and closer and I know as soon as we attack some of the issues we have, we can challenge them,” he said. “I think we are the third-best team behind Red Bull and Ferrari but that could change if we have another good weekend here.

“I am confident that with our rate of development, which is better than any other team on the grid, by next year we can challenge for wins and, in the big picture, hopefully challenge for the title.”

Norris also revealed he had celebrated his maiden win with no little exuberance. He stayed up in Miami through the night on the Sunday of the race, enjoying his victory with other drivers including Verstappen, then flew to Georgia to play golf at Augusta, before finally going to sleep for the first time on Monday night.

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“I had a good night out with some of the drivers and friends and some of the team,” he said. “Everyone was having a little drink and having a good time, which I think is definitely allowed and it was accepted.

“I went from there straight to Augusta and played Augusta. I didn’t wake up until Tuesday morning, the first time I slept was Monday night, so it was a long couple of days, but all worth it.”

Source: theguardian.com