Lando Norris said he faces a difficult decision over how to set his McLaren up for this weekend’s Dutch Grand Prix after leading the opening day of practice at Zandvoort.Max Verstappen to the fastest time in second practice by a mere two hundredths of a second. However Norris is convinced Red Bull have more performance in hand for tomorrow’s qualifying session.
“I think they’re still a bit ahead,” he told Sky. “Normally we’re always a bit closer today [Friday] than we kind of turn out to be. But I’m still happy, I’m positive, it’s a good day.
“Normally the Red Bulls just step it up another level when it comes to Saturday. So we’ll see. But I’m feeling good, especially on the low-fuel [runs] I’m happy, with the high-fuel not so much.”
Norris has already started from the front row of the grid once this year and came within a tenth of a second of taking pole position for the Hungarian Grand Prix. The decision he takes on how far to focus on single-lap pace or race stint performance could determine whether he takes the second pole position of his career on Saturday.
“It’s a tough decision,” he admitted. “It’s one we have to talk about and decide because it’s not the easiest track to overtake on.”
Verstappen won the last race at Spa-Francorchamps, finishing more than half a minute ahead of the closest non-Red Bull car. and Norris does not believe McLaren have the pace to out-race them even if they out-qualify them.
“Even if we qualify ahead of a Red Bull, our race is not with them on Sunday, they’re way too fast for us,” he said. “Even if I had the best tyre degradation I’ve ever had, they’ll still overtake us.
“So our race will probably not be with them. But it’s a difficult track to overtake on, so we’ll decide tonight.”
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2023 Dutch Grand Prix
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- Ferrari had the “sixth or seventh fastest car” at Zandvoort – Sainz