McLaren’s Lando Norris predicts 2024 Japanese GP finishing order

Norris previously predicted Ferrari could beat Red Bull at the 2024 Australian Grand Prix

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Lando Norris might be talented at driving cars with 14 Formula 1 podiums to his name but is his real skill clairvoyance? The McLaren racer correctly predicted Ferrari would challenge Red Bull at the 2024 Australian Grand Prix and now he gives his predictions ahead of the Japanese GP.

Carlos Sainz won the race down under after Max Verstappen suffered a terminal brake failure and retired on Lap 5, although the Spaniard had already taken the lead for Ferrari by then. The Italian team had also offered a fierce challenge in qualifying too before two exceptional laps from the Dutchman stole pole.

But this was not news to Norris, who had already called it, although around the Suzuka International Racing Course he isn’t expecting anyone to be able to challenge Red Bull and Verstappen here in 2024.

“Nothing special’s going to happen this weekend,” Norris said to media ahead of the 2024 Japanese GP. “I think it’s going to be a little more straightforward.

“I think we can still have a good weekend. I think Max will be back on track and then Ferrari and then probably us [McLaren].”

Lando Norris during practice for the 2024 Australian GP | McLaren
Lando Norris during practice for the 2024 Australian GP | McLaren

That makes sense as Red Bull have dominated the races here in 2022 and 2023 with Verstappen winning both by over 19 seconds to the runner-up and in the rain-afflicted 2022 race, Red Bull actually secured a 1-2 finish with Sergio Perez finishing second.

The team has exceptional performance through the high-speed corners whilst their efficient aerodynamic concept, which has other engineers stumped, ensures that they’re not trading off straight-line performance for extra aero.

It’s what has allowed them to fight at a similar level across virtually every race on the F1 calendar, with Singapore proving to be the only track that Adrian Newey’s cars seem to somewhat disagree with.

So, despite the exciting race in Melbourne, Norris thinks we can expect a return to the usual pecking order of Verstappen sitting well clear of whatever scrap is unfolding behind him as he saunters off into the distance once again.

Sergio Perez leads the Ferrari of Carlos Sainz plus Aston Martin's Fernando Alonso and the two McLarens of Lando Norris and Oscar Piastri at the 2024 Bahrain GP | Mark Thompson/Getty Images / Red Bull Content Pool
Sergio Perez leads the Ferrari of Carlos Sainz plus Aston Martin’s Fernando Alonso and the two McLarens of Lando Norris and Oscar Piastri at the 2024 Bahrain GP | Mark Thompson/Getty Images / Red Bull Content Pool

Where can McLaren challenge Ferrari?

At a glance, Suzuka and Australia demand similar expectations from the cars with a significant amount of respect being owed to straight-line speed, but with a strong sense of focus on downforce for the fast, high-speed corners.

And in Australia, McLaren’s Oscar Piastri and Norris were quite close to Ferrari on pace but lacked that extra bit of edge to really take the fight to Sainz to challenge his lead. So, where can they edge slightly closer to the Italians in Japan?

“I think we can be tight with Ferrari,” Norris added to press. “Because there’s a bit more of a bias to higher speed corners here, but it’s been clear from the first few races that we’re probably, on average, the third quickest team.

“We can be a little bit behind at times in qualifying. The Astons can be very quick in qualifying, they have a very stable car so qualifying looks good but for some reason in the race they struggle a bit more and that’s when we can maybe be a bit closer.

“It’s a good sign, it means we can be competitive in races, and I think we’ve been relatively competitive in all of the races so far this year, so that’s a good strength from us.”

Brandon Sutton
Brandon Sutton
Brandon is an alumni of an NCTJ and BJTC Liverpool John Moores University course, and has been with Total-Motorsport.com for over a year now. He enjoys covering all forms of motorsport but particularly focuses on Formula 1, and Brandon loves to debate various topics of the sport and other interests, especially if that topic doesn't have an open/shut answer such as the GOAT debate.
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