Norris has ‘best seat’ to watch title battle unfold

Michelle Foster
Lando Norris and Max Verstappen. Abu Dhabi December 2021

Yas Marina Circuit, Abu Dhabi, FORMULA 1 ETIHAD AIRWAYS ABU DHABI GRAND PRIX 2021, in the picture: Lando Norris (GBR), McLaren F1 Team, Max Verstappen (NEL), Red Bull Racing Honda. Abu Dhabi December 2021

Starting the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix third on the grid, Lando Norris reckons he has the “best seat” in the house to watch the title-decider unfold.

Pole-sitter Max Verstappen and his title rival Lewis Hamilton go into Sunday’s race tied on points, 369.5 apiece.

After 21 grands prix it comes down to this, the 22nd and final race of the championship.

It’s simple, whichever of the two title protagonists finishes ahead, they win the World title. And if neither scores a single point, it goes to Verstappen on countback of race wins.

It promises to be an enthralling decider as both drivers have to go for it.

Norris has the best seat to watch it all.

“I think I’m in the best seat for tomorrow,” he said after qualifying, “so I’m very excited to see everything unfold, to see what goes on.

“I think it’s just a genuine pleasure to be in this position, to see everything that’s been going on this season between Max and Lewis and to watch the battles, to watch the racing because I have a lot of respect for them.

“Yeah, I’m very happy to be P3, not only because it’s a good position to start but because it gives me the prime position for the view tomorrow.”

Lining up third, the McLaren driver is each of both Ferraris with Carlos Sainz fifth on the grid and Charles Leclerc P7.

Norris is battling the Scuderia team-mates for fifth in the Drivers’ Championship, the Brit four behind Leclerc and 4.5 ahead of Sainz.

Saturday’s qualifying marked Norris’ best grid positions in months, the McLaren driver putting that down to the layout of the Yas Marina circuit.

“Just layout,” he said when asked about his advantage over the Ferraris.

“The car is still so sensitive to different types of corners and banked corners, not-banked corners and so on, so yeah.

“Qatar we were very competitive as well, we were quicker than Ferrari but apart from that, in the last bunch we’ve generally been a bit slower.

“So, to come here, to be ahead, I think it was very close between us, I was only something like five-hundredths ahead of Carlos, so it’s not like we’re miles quicker and are going to be comfortable tomorrow – but definitely just edging them out was definitely a good thing for myself but also a good thing for the team.”


Verstappen starting on pole ahead of Hamilton

The championship rivals will be on different strategies in the title deciding race.