Lando Norris hailed McLaren ‘master’ after hunting Verstappen at Imola

The Briton finished second at the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix after a superb drive.

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McLaren team principal Andrea Stella described Lando Norris as a “master” behind the wheel after chasing Max Verstappen to the checkered flag at the 2024 Formula 1 Emilia Romagna Grand Prix.

The 24-year-old followed up his maiden victory in Miami a fortnight ago with another impressive drive at Imola, taking second place on the podium behind Verstappen with less than a second to separate the two drivers after a thrilling battle.

Norris had preserved his hard tyres until the remaining laps of the race and began to chip away at the six-second gap to Verstappen. But the Red Bull driver kept his composure to take his 59th career victory in Italy.

Stella, speaking after the race, was proud of Norris’ performance and pointed to his expert tyre management as a factor in being able to compete with Verstappen.

Max Verstappen with Lando Norris of McLaren talk on the drivers parade prior to the 2024 Miami Grand Prix | Getty Images / Red Bull Content Pool
Lando Norris nearly caught Max Verstappen at Imola. | Getty Images / Red Bull Content Pool

“The tyres were interesting, definitely not as easy as we anticipated,” Stella told Sky Sports F1. “We lost too much time in the first stint. We had too much rear degradation and we thought today it was more about watching the mirrors than watching ahead of us.

With the hards, after we initially saved the tyres, when Leclerc and Oscar [Piastri] were fighting each other, I think this initial investment paid dividend towards the end of the race.

“Lando had the best conditions of the tyres. In addition to the outright car pace, managing the tyres was an important factor. We have to say, Lando from his point of view has become a bit of a master.”

Stella: We had enough laps

Stella could have been forgiven for dreaming of another McLaren victory just two weeks after Miami, and with one more lap, Norris might have caught Verstappen with the aid of DRS.

However, the Italian boss admitted that with 63 laps, his team couldn’t complain about not having an extra one to fight with the Red Bull – and praised Verstappen for making the best out of a bad situation.

“63 laps is already many laps. Many times you can say ‘one lap more’,” Stella added. “Also, it’s Max Verstappen. I’m sure he was a bit in trouble but he managed to get the most out of what he had.

“Well done to Max and well done to our two drivers. Oscar paid for the issue we had yesterday, otherwise, he would have been on the podium as well. We take this positive and look forward with some optimism now.”

Joe Krishnan
Joe Krishnan
Joe Krishnan is an NCTJ-qualified journalist who has worked for a number of media organisations, including the Daily Express, The Mirror, Evening Standard, The Independent and Bleacher Report. Joe has been following F1 since when he watched Mika Hakkinen clinch the 1999 drivers' championship, and his first taste of real-life racing action was watching David Coulthard spin off into the gravel at the British Grand Prix at Silverstone in 2001.
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