Lando Norris is clinging to the hope that there will come “a time and a place” for Max Verstappen and Red Bull to be beaten in the F1 2023 season.
Norris and McLaren headed into qualifying at the Dutch Grand Prix with ambitions of challenging for pole position after a strong performance throughout practice at the Zandvoort circuit.
However, the British driver had to settle for second place on the grid after going six tenths slower in Q3 than Verstappen, who is aiming to equal Sebastian Vettel’s 2013 record of nine consecutive victories at his home race on Sunday.
Additional reporting by Sam Cooper
Lando Norris praying for a Max Verstappen slip up
Red Bull are hopeful of becoming the first team in F1 history to win every race in a single season in 2023, but Norris remains hopeful that the reigning Constructors’ Champions will leave the door open for a different winner at some stage across the final 10 races.
Asked if Verstappen is unbeatable right now, Norris told media including PlanetF1.com’s Sam Cooper: “I’ll say no, just because there’s been times when we’ve been very close.
“There’s been plenty of times it’s been super, super close, whether [that’s because] Max has made a mistake and therefore it’s [been] close or not.
“But there’s differences when it’s qualifying or the race. I think, in the race, we’ve got no chance unless he gets unlucky and something happens.
“Just a very good driver in a good car and he’s doing the job he needs to do, so full respect to that.
“But I wouldn’t say no because there’s always a chance, like on a day like today when he can make a mistake and sadly he doesn’t.
“It can happen, it happens to everyone and it can still happen to him so there’s a time and a place and everyone’s still waiting for it to happen, but just not today.”
Asked if he was surprised by his final deficit to Verstappen in qualifying, he replied: “It’s never a surprise anymore.”
Norris is pessimistic about his chances of challenging Verstappen in the race, but feels McLaren’s gains since Friday have put him in a better position to stay with the lead Red Bull.
“I’ll challenge him for probably two laps and then he’ll drive away,” he said.
“I think there’s quite a bit of tyre degradation here and it’s not our forte when it comes into play, we start to struggle quite a bit in certain corners.
“But we’ve improved the car quite a bit, I think, since since Friday, so I want to be a little bit more hopeful. I’m not going to say no, I’m going to give it a try.
“But Max is always on another level when it comes to Sunday with tyre degradation and race pace. So there’s opportunities, but it’s going to be tough.”