Norris '99% happy' as McLaren continue Verstappen pursuit

By Sports Desk June 24, 2024

Lando Norris described himself as "99% happy" with where McLaren are in their ongoing pursuit of Max Verstappen, but the Briton is desperate to start cutting into the world champion's lead.

Verstappen finished two seconds clear of Norris to edge a keenly contested Spanish Grand Prix on Sunday, extending his championship advantage to 69 points.

Norris is taking the fight to the Dutchman, having finished in the top two in five of the last six Formula One races.

However, he was frustrated not to convert his pole position to a victory in Barcelona, having also fallen just short at the previous race in Canada.

Norris rued a start to the race which saw him passed by Verstappen and Mercedes’ George Russell, who ultimately finished fourth behind the two championship contenders and team-mate Lewis Hamilton.

"I should have done better," Norris said after the race, per BBC Sport. 

"We should have got some points back on Max. Potentially there was a chance to beat him in Canada. Two races I have been second and he has won.

"But Max needs to stop winning. He is still extending [his lead] at the minute but we cannot afford to let him run away with it. 

"If I made some better decisions in Canada and had made a better start [in Spain], we would have won two races. We have what it takes; it’s just about putting it all together.

"I am happy with 99% of things and it is just the 1% - which is a big part of it - wasn’t enough.

"Two metres I lost out in the beginning and this was enough for Max to be on the inside. If George wasn’t on the outside I could have covered him, but George got a good start and got a perfect slipstream, nothing I can do about that.

"As soon as you make one mistake, they are going to be ahead."

Verstappen and Norris both said after the race that the McLaren is currently the fastest car on the track.

But Norris, who did triumph at the Miami Grand Prix last month, lost crucial ground to Verstappen as he remained behind Russell in the early stages until his compatriot pitted.

He added: "I got a bad start, simple as that, and then I just couldn’t get past George. The car was incredible and we were for sure the quickest, I just lost it at the beginning. 

"Lots of positives, one negative and I know that. I can work on it for next time."

Norris will be back on track soon, with the Austrian Grand Prix and British Grand Prix to follow swiftly as part of a run which sees three races take place in as many weeks, part of the longest season in F1 history.

He added: "Austria and Silverstone – two of my favourite tracks. We are on a good roll. I just need to tidy up a few bits and then we will be on top."

The result saw Norris move up to second in the drivers' standings, two points clear of Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc, who had to settle for fifth place in Spain.

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