Saturday, May 25, 2024

Lando Norris admits ‘surprise’ at outpacing Ferrari to claim podium for McLaren at Chinese GP

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Lando Norris admitted he had bet McLaren colleagues that he would finish way behind his Ferrari rivals at the Chinese Grand Prix, before pulling off a “surprise” podium in Shanghai.

Norris qualified fourth for the race but had low expectations after describing his car’s pace in Saturday’s Sprint contest as “shocking”.

However, aided by a timely double Safety Car interruption on Sunday, Norris showed superb pace on the final stint to finish second to Max Verstappen as he comfortably held off Sergio Perez to deny Red Bull a one-two.

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The best of the action from an eventful Chinese Grand Prix

Norris also comfortably saw off the challenge of Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc and Carlos Sainz, who finished fourth and fifth respectively, as the Italian team missed out on a podium for the first time this season.

“I was surprised by many things,” Norris said. “The lack of pace from Ferrari, our good pace, and I guess us comparing to the Red Bull which was so surprising.

“I just wasn’t expecting today. I got everything ready to go home early and not be on the podium, so it’s a pleasant surprise. But it shows the team have done a good job, have worked hard and it’s paying off.

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Fernando Alonso’s position is snatched away by Sergio Perez, shortly followed by Norris to bump the Aston Martin driver down to fourth

“I made a bet how far behind the Ferrari we would finish today. I thought 35 seconds – and I was very wrong by that.

“So happy to be wrong with myself, and my own bets, but a good day for everyone.”

Why did Norris improve in Shanghai?

Norris had started Saturday’s Sprint on pole but blew his chances of claiming a maiden F1 victory as he went off at the first corner having lost his lead to Lewis Hamilton.

He would ultimately finish sixth but was left in despondent mood having struggled to make any progress after the poor start.

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Max Verstappen secures another win for Red Bull at the Chinese Grand Prix with Norris and Perez also finishing on the podium

“I was wrong. I admit when I’m wrong, but I was very wrong here,” Norris told Sky Sports F1.

“It was quite a bit warmer. The wind was quite different. Both of these things just seemed to help out.

“I could manage the race quite differently. I was on my own. I could get past the Aston and control my own tyres, control my pace, control the race. And that’s not what I was able to do yesterday.”

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Norris felt McLaren exceeded their expectations after claiming second place in China and feels that his first race win will come this season

Norris remains fifth in the drivers’ standings after five rounds of the 2024 season, 52 points back from leader Verstappen.

Swap the early alarms for prime-time evening viewing as Formula 1 next makes its first of three visits to the USA in 2024, with the Miami GP on May 3-5. Steam every F1 race and more with a NOW Sports Month Membership – No contract, cancel anytime

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