Lando Norris offers hope to F1 fans fearing utter Max Verstappen domination

Jamie Woodhouse
McLaren's Lando Norris looks up in Bahrain.

McLaren's Lando Norris looks up.

McLaren’s Lando Norris thinks the pack has converged despite a fresh display of Max Verstappen dominance in Bahrain, predicting that was “as good as the Red Bull gets”.

Verstappen began his F1 2024 title defence with pole in Bahrain, as attention then switched to race day for the first sighting of how the Dutchman and his Red Bull RB20 stacked up in race trim, a strength of driver and team last season.

Lando Norris feels Red Bull peaked in Bahrain

And the result was at first glance worrying, Verstappen taking the win and fastest lap with a 25-second margin over the highest non-Red Bull finisher, Ferrari’s Carlos Sainz in P3, with Sergio Perez completing a Red Bull one-two.

However, Norris is not among those fearing the worst for the season ahead.

Crossing the line P6 at a Bahrain circuit which Norris has said does not suit the MCL38, the Brit stated his belief that McLaren, Ferrari, Mercedes and Aston Martin have converged to an even greater degree than last season, and as for Verstappen in that Red Bull, he feels Bahrain was the perfect storm to showcase the best of the RB20.

“I think so,” Norris told Sky F1 on the idea that the competition is now closer. “I think everyone is closer, I don’t think it was as easy for Max.

“I think we’ve got to go to some tracks, especially on a day like today, you want a good race car, a car which is nice on tyres and fast. I think that’s as good as the Red Bull gets almost.

“So I’m hoping we will be closer at certain places. We’re going to still struggle at certain places too, but I think everyone’s more compressed. I think between Mercedes, Ferrari, Aston [Martin], us, maybe not so much the Astons today for some reason, but everyone’s closer, and I think it’s a good sign for everyone watching.” recommends

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McLaren’s battle was very much with Mercedes in Bahrain, Norris applying late pressure on George Russell while Lewis Hamilton picked off Norris’ McLaren team-mate Oscar Piastri, though both Hamilton and Russell were battling battery issues in their Mercedes W15s.

And while Norris felt they and the Silver Arrows were evenly-matched, ultimately McLaren lacked that bit of pace to swing the battle their way.

“I think it was a good day for us,” said Norris.

“Struggles, didn’t feel like an easy day for sure, but a good race with the Mercedes’ throughout the whole thing, a lot of games with strategy and undercuts, overcut, whatever it was.

“So I think we can be happy. It does feel like it could have been a little bit better if some little things were improved, but I think where we were today is realistic. And us and Mercedes seemed close, but just didn’t have enough.”

Asked what he was experiencing at the wheel of the MCL38 in its first Grand Prix outing, Norris admitted it was “mainly bad”, though stressed their level of competitiveness was a “good sign” at a track which does not play to their strengths.

“Good and bad, mainly bad,” said Norris.

“But I think we’re happy, the car has taken a good step forward, that’s a fact. For us to perform decently well here in Bahrain, a track which just doesn’t suit our car, it’s too tight and too slow and twisty, I think we’re happy with the fact that we’re racing with Mercedes.

“And it’s a decent gap over 20 seconds to Carlos in the Ferrari, but I think it’s a good start to the year and we know we’ve got some things to improve on and so forth, but for almost as tricky as it felt, for us to still be as competitive as we were, I think was a good sign.”

The drivers will soon be back in action at the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix, where race day once more takes place on the Saturday next weekend.

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