Lando Norris: How McLaren driver allows Max Verstappen to fight for F1 2024 title | F1 News
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Lando Norris: How McLaren driver allows Max Verstappen to fight for F1 2024 title | F1 News

Lando Norris’ failure to capitalise on clear opportunities to extend his maiden Formula 1 win in recent weeks has seen the Briton miss the chance to put pressure on Max Verstappen.

Norris’ third place in the British Grand Prix was the final race in which McLaren wondered what might have been had it failed to fully exploit the potential of the MCL38.

The 24-year-old could have won five of the last six races but mistakes by the team and Norris himself meant he was 84 points behind world championship leader Verstappen in the drivers’ standings at the halfway point of the season.

That gap could have been much smaller, especially with Sunday’s British Grand Prix being another example of Norris having to rue his race performance as Verstappen finished ahead of him and Lewis Hamilton took home glory.

Sky Sports F1 looks at how many points Norris lost and where McLaren made mistakes.

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Listen to the chill-out room clip as Lewis Hamilton gives a despondent Norris advice on McLaren’s strategy for the British Grand Prix

Safety car call proves costly in Canada – June 9

Norris led the Canadian Grand Prix, coping well with the intermediate tyres in the first stage and building an 11-second lead when Logan Sargeant crashed out.

The safety car came out early enough to give McLaren a few seconds to get Norris into the pits at a point where he should have held the lead.

However, they sent him out again and Norris was stuck behind the safety car while Verstappen and George Russell pitted. The time lost behind the safety car meant that Norris came out third after his pit stop.

Norris almost passed Verstappen as the drivers switched to dry tyres but had to settle for second place in mixed conditions.

  • Current result: 1st place – Verstappen (25 points), 2nd place – Norris (18 points)
  • Possible outcome: 1. – Norris (25 points) 2. – Verstappen (18 points)
  • Swing points: 14

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Max Verstappen and Norris hilariously react to their fight after leaving the pits at the Canadian Grand Prix

All about the start in Spain – June 23

Norris took pole position from Verstappen with a superb qualifying lap at the Spanish Grand Prix.

However, he dropped to third after the first corner, having started slightly worse than Verstappen, with both drivers being overtaken by Russell.

Verstappen quickly passed Russell, but Norris was stuck behind him for 12 laps. McLaren balanced their strategy with the Red Bull, giving Norris an eight-second lead with 18 laps to go.

The Briton crossed the finish line two seconds behind Verstappen and had to focus on the start.

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Take a look at Norris’ thrilling race in Spain as the McLaren driver came so close to his second Formula 1 win

“The car was amazing. I think we were, for sure, the fastest. I just lost control at the beginning,” he said.

“Disappointed. But lots of positives, one negative, and that ruined it all. I know that. I can just work on that for next time.”

  • Current result: 1st place – Verstappen (25 points), 2nd place – Norris (18 points)
  • Possible outcome: 1. – Norris (25 points) 2. – Verstappen (18 points)
  • Swing points: 14

Outfoxed in Austria – June 30

In the Austrian Sprint Grand Prix, Norris briefly took the lead when he attacked Verstappen at Turn 3. However, the Dutchman was able to close the gap on the next corner after the McLaren driver carelessly left his door open, and the injury was compounded when his team-mate Oscar Piastri also slid past him.

Norris admitted he should have defended against Verstappen and 24 hours later the two drivers faced each other again.

A rare, slow stop from the Red Bull left Norris on Verstappen’s tail in the final stretch, with both drivers racing aggressively. On lap 64, they collided at Turn 3 and Norris was forced to retire as Verstappen finished fifth.

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Norris and Verstappen collide at the Austrian Grand Prix, with both drivers losing first place

Regardless of what you think of Verstappen’s driving, Norris had a couple of chances to get it right but couldn’t.

“Overall, I think it was good racing,” Norris recalled after the race in Austria.

“Sometimes maybe very close to the edge, but as we said, we talked about it, we talked about it and we are both happy to be racing again.”

  • Current result: 5. – Verstappen (10 points) DNF – Norris (0 points)
  • Possible outcome: 1. – Norris (25 points) 2. – Verstappen (18 points)
  • Swing points: 17

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Karun Chandhok and Jenson Button analyse the incident between Verstappen and Norris at the Austrian Grand Prix

Silverstone strategy fails – July 7

Norris was well on course to win the British Grand Prix as he led with 14 laps to go, with the McLaren only needing a required change to slick tyres once the track had dried.

However, he went one lap too long and missed the pit lane, resulting in him being significantly overtaken by eventual race winner Hamilton.

But more importantly, Norris was unexpectedly forced to change to the soft tyres, despite having discussed the possibility of using the medium compound that was available to him before his final pit stop.

Not only did the tyre choice deprive Norris of any chance of catching Hamilton, but worse still, he was followed by a speeding Verstappen – on the hard compound – on a day when Red Bull had the third-best car.

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On the Sky Sports F1 podcast, Rachel Brookes and Martin Brundle discuss the strategic mistakes McLaren made at the British Grand Prix that could have cost them victory

“McLaren were in the best position because they had two sets of medium-compound tyres,” said Martin Brundle Sky Sports F1 Podcast.

“They put it on Piastri’s car and he just flew. If you look at how close he got to Hamilton and Norris in the last few laps of the race, Piastri, if he hadn’t been at a disadvantage because he had to stay on the outside to avoid a double stack at the start of the race, would have been there.

“I think the choice was clear: we’ll put on the best possible tyre, and that was the medium compound. It was a defensive decision, when the attitude should have been ‘let’s do what needs to be the fastest, and we’ll do it’.”

“They came in late with Lando zooming past his pit and it was a slow stop. When you add it all up, it cost them a sure win.”

  • Current result: 2nd place – Verstappen (18 points), 3rd place – Norris (15 points)
  • Possible outcome: 1. – Norris (25 points) 3. – Verstappen (15 points)
  • Swing points: 13 points

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Hamilton takes lead in British GP after Norris suffers slow pit stop

What could have been for Norris

Since winning the Miami Grand Prix, McLaren has battled for victory in the last six races.

It was always going to be a tough race to win at Imola, despite Norris finishing a second behind Verstappen.

In Monaco, Charles Leclerc took a great lap from pole position, while Piastri started second, Carlos Sainz third and Norris fourth. That was the order at the finish of the Grand Prix.

For the first time in his career, Norris has the opportunity to experience what it’s like to fight at the front every weekend, with the spotlights brighter and small mistakes punished by a championship driver like Verstappen.

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Highlights of the race at Silverstone ahead of the British Grand Prix

“These almost tragic incidents are, above all, good news,” said McLaren team principal Andrea Stella.

“We didn’t have such close encounters until 12 months ago. We have to look at the positives. We have to look at the fact that the team is able to get frustrated because we are third on the podium (at Silverstone) and the other driver is fourth. And, once again, the team has scored the most points.

“So if we don’t start from the positive side, from the building side, we will be the ones who ‘build and destroy, build and destroy’ and we will always remain at the same level.”

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Sky F1’s Ted Kravitz recaps the British Grand Prix

If Norris had won the last four races, which was very likely, the title fight would have looked completely different.

Instead of being 84 points behind Verstappen, he would be just 26 points behind him with 12 races to go.

  • Current classification: 1st place – Verstappen (255 points), 2nd place – Norris (171 points)
  • Possible classifications: 1st place – Verstappen (246 points), 2nd place – Norris (220 points)

The next Formula 1 race will be the Hungarian Grand Prix in Budapest, which will take place from 19 to 21 July. You can watch every session live on Sky Sports F1. Stream every F1 race and more with a NOW Sports Month membership – contract-free, cancel anytime