Lando Norris believes Max Verstappen is not World Champion because he had the fastest car – he had less “bad luck” and made fewer mistakes.
Verstappen emerged on top from an epic 2021 tussle with Lewis Hamilton that ended controversially but also with 10 race wins for the Dutchman compared to eight for the defending champion, who finished eight points adrift.
It was a season when Red Bull, despite ultimately missing out on the Constructors’ Championship, were ultimately able to provide the Dutchman with a car capable of matching the previously all-conquering Mercedes for large parts of the campaign.
But Norris, who also had comfortably the best of his three Formula 1 seasons for McLaren that included a pole-position start in Russia, thinks it was Verstappen’s driving rather than the performance of the RB16B that made the difference in the battle against Hamilton.
“I don’t think he had a better car throughout the season,” said Norris, quoted by Motorsport-total.com.
“Mercedes had the stronger car in most cases, but he (Verstappen) had less bad luck and made less mistakes as a driver.”
In terms of costly errors, excluding moments that could be construed as racing incidents such as the collision with Hamilton at Monza, Verstappen was more or less blemish-free throughout the campaign.
Hamilton made a self-confessed blunder at the restart of the Azerbaijan Grand Prix when he accidentally caught the brake ‘magic’ button, while he also went off on a greasy track at Imola but was still able to maximise his potential on the day by finishing second.
Norris enjoys healthy relationships with both title protagonists, Verstappen having described the 22-year-old as “a good friend of mine” when sending his best wishes following the McLaren man’s hefty crash during Belgian Grand Prix qualifying.
The seven-time former World Champion, meanwhile, referred to Norris as “such a great driver” over the team radio while the duo were racing for position in Austria.
“I’m happy for him,” Norris said of Verstappen’s title triumph. “I congratulate him on what he has done this season.
“He’s taken on Lewis, who is much more experienced and has won many titles.
“He’s (Verstappen) a good friend of mine. I congratulated him first, but then I also went to Lewis because he also had an incredible season and did a lot of things right to become champion. I respect both of them a lot.”
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