Daniel Ricciardo, McLaren, Monza, 2021

McLaren see chance to pass and contain Verstappen in Italian Grand Prix

2021 Italian Grand Prix

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McLaren believe they have a chance to end their nine-year victory drought if they can displace Max Verstappen from the lead during the Italian Grand Prix.

Daniel Ricciardo and Lando Norris line up second and third in their MCL35Ms for today’s race, behind the pole-winning Red Bull driver. The pair overtook the slow-starting Lewis Hamilton in yesterday’s sprint race and kept him behind until the end.

Norris believes Verstappen will have a hard time passing them if they can out-drag him in the grand prix.

“Definitely from a Mercedes [power unit] point of view compared to Red Bull, we definitely seem to have a bit of an advantage,” he said. “So that’s good.

“Some teams are obviously running like a lot more wing as well, like Ferrari, AlphaTauri and the Aston, they’re just running more wing. So I don’t think it’s easy just to say it’s the power units or not. But we are competitive in the straights, we’re running quite a low downforce compared to a lot of people.

“Against that Red Bull if we can be ahead, considering I kept Hamilton behind and they were on pole by half a second to the Red Bull, maybe we would have that little bit more of a chance comparing to Max. So there is that chance.”

The difficulty Verstappen’s team mate Sergio Perez experienced overtaking in the sprint race shows Verstappen might be contained, said Norris.

“Perez didn’t drive through the whole pack, he got stuck behind Giovinazzi. So there’s a chance, for sure.

“I think we just have to wait and see what it’s going to be like to figure it out. But it was done last year and like my race now, there is this ability to hold people up and defend in the right places and not let them through.”

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By taking second and third on the grid, McLaren have achieved their strongest qualifying performance since the 2012 Brazilian Grand Prix, when they scored their most recent victory. Team principal Andreas Seidl is hopeful they can attack Verstappen at the start.

“We’re starting P2 and P3 and with having a competitive car there may be opportunities to be there. So that’s how we will approach the race. Of course we will not try to do anything stupid, but when you start from P2 and P3 here in Monza with the long run to the first corner as well there’s always a chance to get a good tow and maybe be first after the first corner.

“But still, we need to be realistic then about how the race could evolve. Yes, there’s a chance to keep faster cars behind. At the same time it’s a long race.

“We have seen also that with stint length, the longer the stint, the Mercedes and the Red Bull obviously have an advantage in terms of tyre degradation and so on. So it will be very important to work out tonight what’s best strategy for us as a team going into this race and to see how we can manage to stay at least at the position we start the race.”

But McLaren need to capitalise on the opportunity to out-score closest championship rivals Ferrari, whose drivers will start fifth and sixth, Seidl added.

“I would be very happy tomorrow night if we walk away with solid points scoring for both cars in our battle for the constructors championship,” he said. “At the same time, of course we want to be there if there’s opportunities because it would be simply another great reward for the work everyone is putting in the team.”

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2021 Italian Grand Prix

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10 comments on “McLaren see chance to pass and contain Verstappen in Italian Grand Prix”

  1. I doubt. Red Bull, after all, has a considerable outright pace advantage over Mclaren.
    A DNF, puncture, etc., but not on pure pace.

    1. On start they can take him, then if he leads out of first corner most probably not anymore.

  2. Mclaren’s, both of them will start quick it’s going to be fascinating if either one can jump Max at the start, plus Riccardo may have a few things to try on Max assuming he can … keep up …

  3. McLaren definitely need one or both cars to pass Verstappen at the start to have any chance of winning. Yesterday they lost some 15 seconds in 15 laps (not counting the SC period), so even if they manage to pass the Red Bull at the start it will be tall order for them to win the race.

  4. if they can displace Max Verstappen from the lead during the Italian Grand Prix.

    If pigs had wings…

  5. Very bullish. No more letting through or holding up talk like in Austria. Nice.

    If both on softs to take the start, then the lead car first in for the undercut. Then both on different tyres after the stop?

  6. I doubt the McLaren can handle full fuel load well those first few laps. Realistically the first corner is their option. After that it is over

  7. Probably the wisest thing to do is to defend the two podium. Places they can achieve.
    But if there is an opportunity to take the lead it would be stupid to miss out.
    Lewis starting on the soft will come into the fight in front.
    The first lap wil define the probable outcome.

  8. I’m getting nightmares that one of the McLarens will take out Verstappen in the first corner and Lewis will be able to pass the remaining one during the pit stops.
    Result: Lewis wins, Verstappen no points
    Seems to fit the first part of this season.

  9. Was shaping out to be very interesting (still was in a different way) before the slow pit stops, with hamilton and verstappen both struggling to overtake ricciardo and norris. Likely outcome would’ve been ricciardo, verstappen and hamilton I think, especially cause he’d have been ahead of norris without that slightly slow pit stop.

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