George Russell, Mercedes, Suzuka, 2023

Norris among Suzuka favourites with ‘question marks on Red Bull’ – Russell

Formula 1

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George Russell says the performance of McLaren’s updated car could make Lando Norris one of the contenders in this weekend’s Japanese Grand Prix.

McLaren impressed their rivals with the major aerodynamic upgrade it brought to its car at the Austrian Grand Prix two months ago. The car has been particularly competitive in high-speed corners since then, and Suzuka boasts several of the quickest on the calendar.

Last weekend McLaren brought a further update to its car at the Singapore Grand Prix. The team intended that to address its key weaknesses in slower corners. Team principal Andrea Stella admitted he is eager to see how the MCL60 performs through the hairpin and chicane at Suzuka, the only two low-speed corners on the track.

While Red Bull are widely expected to return to their usual level of performance following their Singapore slump, Russell suspects Norris could run them close.

“I think we’ve definitely got a good chance on Sunday,” the Mercedes driver told the official F1 website. “I think Ferrari will be quick again on quali performance.

“Lando’s potentially one of the favourites for this weekend with their high-speed performance in the McLaren. But all the question marks are on Red Bull.”

Max Verstappen also expects a strong showing from McLaren this weekend.

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“Honestly what they have done this year is quite impressive, from where they started to where they are now,” he said. “So I would for sure expect them to be strong but of course I hope to be ahead.”

The Red Bull driver is confident they will rebound from their poor performance in Singapore last week. “It was not our strongest weekend, of course, but it’s important that now we just analyse everything and step by step I think we’ll get there,” he said. “But there’s also no real rush.

“Singapore is so, so different to what we will experience here in terms of the way you set up the car. So I’m also not worried that we can like that will upset our weekend here.”

Red Bull’s car “felt very nice on the simulator” for Suzuka, said Verstappen. “Normally that’s a good indication when everything comes quite easy. So I hope of course that is going to be exactly the same in real life.”

Norris said it was “tough to say” whether McLaren’s latest updates will allow them to take the fight to Red Bull, who won every race prior to last weekend.

“I want to believe so,” he said. “I think everything did what it was meant to do and I think we definitely took some steps forward.

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“I don’t think that we’re confident in saying we’re as quick as Red Bull. I think Red Bull will probably be dominant this weekend.”

However he admitted McLaren’s performance has been especially strong at certain tracks this year. “I think comparing us to Ferrari and Mercedes, Mercedes have been just a lot more consistent than what we have, we still fluctuate quite a bit. On a good weekend we can be very, very good, maybe a little bit ahead like we’ve seen in Silverstone and things like that. But on the whole Mercedes have probably been the second-best car this season, then Ferrari and then us so far.

“So we’re getting there but it’s still a very different circuit to Singapore with these upgrades. So there’s all things for us to find out and analyse from Suzuka.”

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Author information

Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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7 comments on “Norris among Suzuka favourites with ‘question marks on Red Bull’ – Russell”

  1. Questions marks will be on russell to see if he doesnt crash it somewhere again when under pressure

    1. Question mark also will be, how much swearing we need to hear from some bully driver, if he again messes up his rocketships setup.

  2. Nah better feelgood story if he waits for his 100th GP to post a win. Only three to go go go Lando.

  3. Politics. Mental games. Pointing at others instead of being introspective and solve your own issues.

    1. They asked him who he thinks will be good at Suzuka. He answered. What a despicable young man!

    2. Curious if you think Russell called the reporter’s house to say this? And there is factually an open question of how the technical directive regarding the floor will impact the race at Suzuka given the disastrous performance at Singapore following the implementation of the directive. You can credulously accept that the drop in performance was purely coincidental with that change if you like, but it remains reasonable to question it until we see RBs performance in Japan.

    3. Stupid anti fans spreading their hate. Ugly

Comments are closed.