Norris sets sights on Max in Monza sprint qualifying

Finley Crebolder
Lando Norris speaking to the media. Italy September 2021

McLaren driver Lando Norris speaking to the media after Italian Grand Prix qualifying. Italy September 2021

Lando Norris is aiming to beat Max Verstappen in sprint qualifying for the Italian Grand Prix, and fancies his chances of doing so.

McLaren looked strong throughout qualifying at Monza; so strong in fact that heading into Q3, it looked like they had a good chance of getting ahead of both Red Bulls.

They ultimately couldn’t though, with Norris and Ricciardo taking P4 and P5, ahead of Sergio Perez but just behind Verstappen.

Looking ahead to sprint qualifying, Norris’ goal is to get ahead of the Dutchman, and with lower fuel loads than in a normal race, he’s optimistic that he has a chance.

“I’m not saying that we will be fighting the Mercedes, but we have a chance to race the Red Bull,” said the Brit.

“We are ahead of [Sergio] Perez, and I’m very close to Max, so with lower fuel we have a bit more of a chance.

“But the Red Bull is still the quicker car. More drivable, more race-able when you have the high fuel, the tyre degradation and so on.

“I can be positive and look forward to tomorrow, I’ll still be going for it and trying to get past, but I have to pick my battles wisely.”

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The gap between the two young drivers in Q3 was just 0.023s, with Ricciardo just 0.004s behind his team-mate.

Looking back at his final lap, Norris feels that he could have gone quicker and taken P3 if not for an error, but is still largely pleased with the final result.

“I had him in Q1 and Q2, and there were a couple places where I could make improvements, which I did,” he added.

“But on my final lap I made the biggest mistake and messed up the apex of the second chicane, so I lost one tenth. And that would’ve put me P3, so I’m not unhappy, I am still happy.”

McLaren will fancy their chances of scoring a podium in Italy with Valtteri Bottas guaranteed to start the Sunday race at the back of the grid due to an engine change.