Lando Norris, McLaren, Interlagos, 2023

Norris says Red Bull’s end-of-stint advantage put a stop to his victory challenge

Formula 1

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Lando Norris’ brilliant start to the Brazilian Grand Prix put him into a fight with Max Verstappen for the lead, but his rival’s pace at the end of stints proved too much to match.

Having risen from sixth to second off the line, Norris was the Red Bull driver’s closest rival throughout the race but fell further away from him the longer stints went on for.

“It was a pleasant surprise to come out in P2 already after turn one,” said Norris, who revealed McLaren had done “more homework” after the sprint race to improve their starts. “I was expecting, and we planned a lot for 20 laps in traffic and some overtakes and a bit of fun.”

But as the team discovered in the sprint race the day before, MCL60 wasn’t able to keep its tyres alive as successfully as the RB19. The pit stop-free sprint race on Saturday was 24 laps long, and it took until lap 18 for the winner Verstappen to build a lead of two seconds over Norris. But in the remaining laps he doubled that gap.

The similarity between how the weekend’s two races played out was not lost on Norris after he finished second in a grand prix for the sixth time this year.

“[It was] similar to what we saw yesterday in the sprint,” he said. “I’m not far behind for the first 10, 15, 17 laps but in that final phase I just drop off a bit too much.

“I don’t know if it’s just that we’re a bit slower and I’m pushing a bit more to try to keep up, and then I pay the price, or it’s just a little bit of our tyre degradation is not quite as good and we suffer in the slow-speed quite a bit with the rears, and that’s where we struggle then with the lap time in the end. There’s clear things to improve on, like I said yesterday, but still a very positive day for us.”

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Norris led briefly from lap 57 before making his final pit stop. Prior to that he had spent just three laps within a second of Verstappen. Norris was the faster of the two on just 15 laps prior to his second pit stop on lap 59, then in the final stint he was faster in nine of the race’s last 11 laps but still finished 8.277 seconds behind.

Norris’ strong start had made it look like he could be a victory contender, and set up the period in which he was within overtaking distance of Verstappen. But he again felt the Red Bull RB19 had an advantage in a key area that left little opportunity for him to try to take the lead.

“We struggled too much in turn 10 and turn 12. It’s where the Red Bull’s extremely competitive and where we struggled all weekend,” Norris said. “Apart from when we’re on new tyres, and of course on that restart, I used my new tyres and Max didn’t. So, I thought if I was going to have one opportunity, it was going to be there and then.”

Getting a good exit out of turn 12 is key to setting up a pass at turn one the next lap, which Norris attempted.

“I used all of my battery and of course had DRS and then you do start catching them very quickly. I had a good line in turn one, turn two, but Max also had a lot of grip.

“If it was maybe later on in the stint, his line in turn one and turn two would have been a lot more compromised and had a bigger penalty, but because the tyres were still fresh and providing a lot of grip he got a good enough exit that I then only got alongside him, just before the braking zone for turn four.

“I would have tried to get past him if I could, and I wanted to, but just a couple more metres would have been lovely.”

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2023 Brazilian Grand Prix

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Author information

Ida Wood
Often found in junior single-seater paddocks around Europe doing journalism and television commentary, or dabbling in teaching photography back in the UK. Currently based...

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11 comments on “Norris says Red Bull’s end-of-stint advantage put a stop to his victory challenge”

  1. Robert Henning
    6th November 2023, 17:17

    When margins are within a tenth, I usually give the credit to the winning driver. So I believe Verstappen made the difference with management given his experience and Lando helped the cause with his inexperience at the front.

    1. Hmm, don’t agree, the most successful car is probably better on tyres.

      1. Robert Henning
        6th November 2023, 19:39

        The most consistent driver in F1’s history probably has some role to play in that.

        1. Or the most prolific designer in F1 History!

          1. Robert Henning
            7th November 2023, 23:31

            I’m sure the car drives itself and that’s why records more than 70 years old are getting broken even when cars are less than 10s off over 70 laps.

            Maybe sometimes using the brain is an option to consider. Many here don’t unfortunately.

        2. Jeffrey Powell
          6th November 2023, 22:20

          I understand your feeling you obviously are a dedicated fan but remember although he is undoubtedly highly talented, modern F1 cars when they are built to the extreme standards of Red Bull specifically are reliable to a level that does not compare to previous era’s. Elevating Max above say Jim Clark and Ayrton. Senna is pretty juvenile .

          1. I’d say Jim Clark was second only to Juan Manuel Fangio, but Senna the Bully does not make my top 20.

          2. Like the bulletproof reliability Lewis had with only 1 retirement from 3rd of October 2016 till 11th of September 2021 and if you exclude collisions 19th of November 2022.
            That is 6 years and 126 races (excl Bahrain 2020) with just 1 mechanical DNF or more than 4 years and 92 races without any mechanical DNF.

            Lewis Hamilton – 30 retirements of which 13 are classed as collision/accident. That is 17 mechanical retirements in 330 races = 5.15%
            Max Verstappen – 31 retirements of which 11 are classed as collision/accident. That is 20 mechanical retirements in 183 races = 10.93%

          3. Robert Henning
            7th November 2023, 23:30

            There’s nothing Juvenile if you’re objective. Both Clark and Senna never drove a season as perfect as Verstappen. And they in fact drove cars with far more relative pace advantage.

            People just can’t come in terms with reality.

            As with everything it’ll take time and appreciation.

    2. At no point do I dismiss Max’s talent and He is certainly amongst the greats but to say he is better because he made his tyres last longer in an A class car Vs a driver in a B class car isn’t a fair comparison. Obviously as a McLaren fan I think Lando is also an A+ driver, but the team, despite recent advances isn’t on the same level. Hamilton, Schumacher etc were also in top teams when they were winning almost every meet.

  2. Like the bulletproof reliability Lewis had with only 1 retirement from 3rd of October 2016 till 11th of September 2021 and if you exclude collisions 19th of November 2022.
    That is 6 years and 126 races (excl Bahrain 2020) with just 1 mechanical DNF or more than 4 years and 92 races without any mechanical DNF.

    Lewis Hamilton – 30 retirements of which 13 are classed as collision/accident. That is 17 mechanical retirements in 330 races = 5.15%
    Max Verstappen – 31 retirements of which 11 are classed as collision/accident. That is 20 mechanical retirements in 183 races = 10.93%

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