So close! Lando Norris reveals where Imola GP was won and lost after agonising defeat

Henry Valantine
Lando Norris on the Imola podium.

Lando Norris came to within a few tenths of toppling Max Verstappen at the Emilia-Romagna Grand Prix.

Lando Norris believes he was only “one or two more laps” from passing Max Verstappen for victory at the Emilia-Romagna Grand Prix on Sunday.

Having been sat second for the vast majority of proceedings at Imola, Norris had been closing in on the Red Bull driver at a rate of knots in the closing laps as his tyres degraded and battery power elapsed, with the Miami Grand Prix winner eventually crossing the line just seven tenths down on the reigning World Champion.

Lando Norris: ‘One or two more laps, I think I would have had him’

Norris had been more than five seconds behind the race leader heading into the final part of the race, but was able to close in as the laps progressed with his tyres holding on better than Verstappen’s in front.

Coupled with his McLaren appearing at least a match for the Red Bull RB20 in race trim this weekend, Norris was able to claw his way to within DRS range on the final lap of the race, but it was not enough to get close enough to launch a move for the lead of the race.

It was a moment of frustration for Norris, having pushed his car throughout the final stint to get to within range of Verstappen.

He admitted the stronger first stint from the reigning World Champion potentially made the difference on the day, with Verstappen opening up a healthy lead on medium tyres prior to the pit stops.

“Yeah, it hurts me to say but one or two more laps and I think I would have had him,” Norris said in the aftermath of the race.

“So, tough, a shame. I fought hard right until the very last lap but just lost out a little bit too much to Max in the beginning.

“He was much better in the first stint, and obviously in the second stint we were stronger, but it just was a tough first half and a much better second half – and one or two more laps would have been beautiful, but just not today.”

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With McLaren having made significant performance gains in recent weeks through the course of their Miami Grand Prix upgrades taking effect, Norris said the team need to readjust their expectations for what is ahead – even though he admitted it remains a “surprise” for where he is at the moment, despite having earned his fourth podium in the last five races.

“I think we’re at a point now where we can happily say we’re now in the position of Ferrari and Red Bull, so it’s what we have to get used to,” he said.

“But the team are doing a good job. I think we’re all doing a very good job, so it’s business as usual.

“It’s focusing on doing the same things, it’s just we’re fighting for first or second now.

“It’s still a surprise to say it’s frustrating not to win, but after last weekend and the improvements we made, it’s what we should have started to expect.”

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