Lando Norris makes ‘caught sleeping’ admission as first F1 win wait continues

Jamie Woodhouse
McLaren driver Lando Norris.

McLaren driver Lando Norris looks contemplative in the 2023 Brazilian Grand Prix press conference.

Lando Norris said he was “caught sleeping” by George Russell in an overly-conservative Brazilian GP sprint start, but was pleased with his recovery from there.

Making up for some of the frustrations of Friday qualifying by claiming pole for the Brazil sprint, Norris had a fresh chance to become a Formula 1 race winner for the first time, team-mate Oscar Piastri having claimed sprint victory for McLaren back in Qatar.

A major hurdle stood in his way though, that being Red Bull’s dominant three-time World Champion Max Verstappen, alongside him on the front row.

Lando Norris asleep at the Brazilian GP sprint start

Both drivers initially got away well, but it was Verstappen who gathered momentum from there, allowing him to go down the inside of Norris at Turn 1 and take the lead, while Norris was then demoted a further spot when Russell pushed his Mercedes through into P2.

Norris did take that position back, but was unable to apply pressure to Verstappen who claimed the sprint win.

Put to Norris after that sprint that Verstappen seemed to have more power in his Red Bull in the second phase of the launch, Norris replied: “No, he doesn’t have more power, I think I have more power, but I have to review it, it’s something to look back on to.

“My initial start was good, but the second phase of the launch, maybe I was just a bit conservative. I don’t think I had any wheelspin, I was just a little bit on the safe side, so things to improve for tomorrow.

“But nevertheless, caught sleeping a little bit with George on lap 1, but the pace was strong after and I tried to go after Max but just didn’t have enough. But was good fun.” recommends

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While the sprint offered positive signs for McLaren’s race pace going into the Grand Prix, Norris will have more work to do this time around as he starts from P6, rather than pole.

Asked if this starting position concerns him when he looks at the pace of cars around him, Norris talked up the might of the dominant Red Bull, the RB19 having claimed 18 wins out of 19 grands prix in F1 2023, Verstappen taking 16 of those, so it would not be wise to suddenly believe McLaren could be in the fight.

Instead, he goes into the Grand Prix encouraged by the pace McLaren has shown and ready to get stuck into some overtaking.

“I mean there was no one around me apart from Max and he’s in a Red Bull,” said Norris. “So I’m not concerned, if anything, encouraged a lot with how good our pace was today.

“We’re not fighting necessarily Max. I think we’re talking about competing against one of the best drivers in one of the best cars that’s ever been in Formula 1. We’re not going to suddenly be fighting a Red Bull in a track which we almost didn’t expect to be as good as it has been again.

“So many good surprises and a lot of positives for us, of course tomorrow I’ll try again, but will have to do a little bit more overtaking.”

With six podium finishes to his name already in F1 2023, Norris will fancy his chances of adding another to the collection on Sunday at Interlagos.

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