Norris had “no chance” to beat Verstappen in Mexico even without Q1 exit

Formula 1

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Lando Norris is certain he couldn’t have beaten Max Verstappen to victory in Mexico even if he hadn’t been eliminated in the first round of qualifying.

The McLaren driver took 17th on the grid, his worst starting position since the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix in March, after dropping out in Q1 at the Mexico City track. His team mate Oscar Piastri started seventh.

In the race Norris worked his way forward to finish fifth and was catching the two Ferraris ahead of him as the race ended. But though he admitted qualifying badly in Mexico, he insisted there was “no chance” he could have beaten Verstappen to victory even if he’d started higher up.

Norris said his car’s pace “was great all weekend” at the Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez. “Maybe not amazing in qualifying, but good enough easily to be in Q3 and so forth.”

Norris was running 14th after the race was restarted following a crash, and passed a string of rivals to score his fifth consecutive top-five finish.

“We knew the pace was going to be good on Sunday, maybe not almost as good as what it was, especially the final stint,” he said. “I think the first stint was good, but just hard to make a lot of progress at the beginning.

“But the second stint, once you get the tyres in a good window and things start to come towards you, then things start to flow and felt very good out there. So, many different reasons, but just good pace, good tyre wear, good management and made it a very enjoyable race.”

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McLaren team principal Andrea Stella heaped praise on his drive after the race. Norris said he’s improved his race pace in return rounds but needs to work on his one-lap performance.

“I think in terms of management and not giving up, that kind of thing, especially after the restart and dropping to 14th, I think in terms of management and from that stage of it, it was one of my best races. Race pace was never my best and my strongest suit even a couple of years ago, so to have now almost turned into one of my strengths and qualifying being almost the thing I need to be working on a bit more then, it’s a good sign.

“So I enjoyed it a lot, it was definitely one of my better performances. But it’s also a very different situation to Austin and going from the front and kind of trying to lead the race and control the pace and things like that, it’s a very different situation to be in. So one of my best, yes, but difficult to compare to the rest.”

Norris said the team performed better than expected in Mexico which gives them some encouragement for this weekend’s race.

“Definitely here and Mexico are the two races we weren’t expecting to be too strong comparing to Qatar and Suzuka and things like that. So I’m not expecting to set the world on fire.

“But I think, considering how good Mexico was in the race and where we potentially could have finished if we started higher up, then I still look forward to it. But it’s never tended to be our strongest weekend or one of the strongest weekends. So we’ll keep our feet on the ground and keep pushing, but I’m sure we can still have a good weekend.”

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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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