Lando Norris makes Australian GP pole position prediction with surprise package named

Oliver Harden
A close-up shot of Lando Norris speaking to the media with a prominent McLaren logo alongside him

Lando Norris feels McLarem are still lacking compared to their F1 rivals

McLaren driver Lando Norris is convinced that Ferrari will claim pole position for the Australian Grand Prix – and has predicted Aston Martin to spring a surprise at Albert Park.

Having emerged as the closest threat to Red Bull in the first two races of F1 2024, with Carlos Sainz and Charles Leclerc finishing third in Bahrain and Saudi Arabia respectively, Ferrari set the pace in practice at the Australian GP.

Lando Norris tips Ferrari pole and Aston Martin surprise at Australian GP

Leclerc’s pace-setting time in FP2 was 0.381 seconds faster than second-place Max Verstappen, who admitted Ferrari were looking “quick” after a “messy” Friday for Red Bull.

Norris himself was fastest in FP1, but has admitted McLaren’s fight in Australia in likely to be against Aston Martin and Mercedes with Red Bull and Ferrari out of reach.

And he has backed Leclerc and Sainz to cause an upset in qualifying as Verstappen aims to match his own record of 10 straight wins in Melbourne.

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Asked if he is comparing McLaren’s pace to Ferrari this weekend, Norris told Formula 1: “No, no.

“The Ferrari’s on pole tomorrow, I think. Leclerc’s on pole tomorrow. Or Carlos.

“A bit more the Astons and Mercedes. It’s been clear since day one that Red Bull and Ferrari are way too fast for us, so no point looking at them.

“But Mercedes and Aston, I think, are a better target.

“They were making some mistakes, but I made my fair share of mistakes today. But George [Russell] was quicker than us today, so theirs is still a good car.”

Norris claimed his quickest time in FP1 was misleading, with McLaren showing their true pace before the opposition in the early stages of practice.

The British driver believes the team are losing time everywhere to the frontrunners in Australia – and reckons even Aston Martin, who have suffered a muted start to the season, “are quite a bit ahead” of McLaren as things stand.

He explained: “I didn’t really feel great in FP1.

“I think it was just that we showed more pace than the others, so I don’t think really meant anything at all.

“I think it’s clear Ferrari and Red Bull are a long, long way up the road. Even Aston are quite a bit ahead of us.

“I think we’re in a good position. Tricky day with just how windy it is out there. On track, it makes a big difference.

“So not an easy day, but I think a relatively good feeling in the car and I think we’re in a reasonable position.

“I think we have clearer weaknesses.

“There’s no place that we’re consistently stronger than anyone or anything like that, I think we lose just a little bit in every sector compared to the Ferraris, maybe a little bit more in the tight and twisty corners like the last sector. It’s difficult.

“We’re just not as quick everywhere basically, so it’s not a single place.

“We’re just trying to improve the balance and everything, it will make everything get a little bit better.”

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