Lando Norris reveals exactly where he’s lost time to Max Verstappen in Japanese GP qualifying

Lando Norris qualified third for the 2024 Japanese GP in the McLaren, with Red Bull pairing Max Verstappen and Sergio Perez locking out the front row

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Lando Norris was in an optimistic mood after qualifying third for the 2024 Japanese Grand Prix, despite finishing off the front row and almost a quarter of a second behind runner-up Sergio Perez.

However, Norris instead focussed on the gap to polesitter Max Verstappen and drew positives from his gap of less than three-tenths to the Dutchman who failed to really hook up his final lap of the day.

McLaren qualified second and third at Suzuka in 2023 led by Oscar Piastri, but the Australian was well over half a second behind Verstappen on that occasion while Norris added his team know where they’re losing time.

“I think today was as good as it was going to get,” Norris told Sky Sports F1. “A gap of 2.9 tenths is still quite a big chunk but we know exactly where we’re losing it, we’re losing it in two corners pretty much, the slow speed as usual.

“But there’s a lot of our strengths which is the high speed, we’re purple sector one which is always a good feeling, so good confidence in the car but just the slow speed is still too tricky. There’s one DRS zone as well which is good for us.

“I think today shows when you eliminate some of our weaknesses where we stack up and where we deserve to be. There’s just an ‘as good as it gets’ kind of feeling so we know we still have many things to improve

“But to only be two-and-a-bit tenths off is still a good job especially when you look, last year we were almost half a second off pole so we’re taking steps forward but there’s a little more to do.”

Norris: Ferrari could be back on form in Japan

Max Verstappen of Red Bull (C), Sergio Perez (L) and Lando Norris of McLaren (R) after qualifying for the 2024 Japanese Grand Prix | Getty Images / Red Bull Content Pool
Max Verstappen of Red Bull (C), Sergio Perez (L) and Lando Norris of McLaren (R) after qualifying for the 2024 Japanese Grand Prix | Getty Images / Red Bull Content Pool

A curious twist of fate means Formula 1‘s last two trips to Suzuka have come immediately after Verstappen‘s two last winless races – at the 2023 Singapore and 2024 Australian GPs.

Norris has recorded the most second-place finishes since the 2023 summer break but it’s been Carlos Sainz who’s taken the win in place of Max Verstappen on both occasions.

And while the Dutchman is the hot favourite to win in Japan, Norris predicted Ferrari could threaten McLaren Sainz and Charles Leclerc qualifying fourth and eighth respectively.

Ferrari obviously dropped off a little bit today but obviously that could just be today and they could be back on form tomorrow,” Norris added.

“But I think it was close between all of us, Aston, Mercedes, Ferrari, us, that’s eight cars which we didn’t know if we were going to be at the head of it, at the back of it or in the middle.”

Adam Dickinson
Adam Dickinson
An international multi-award-winning journalist, Adam Dickinson has written for Total-Motorsport.com since June 2022 and also contributes to TNT Sports, Eurosport and the Rugby Paper. He's also had articles published in the Daily Telegraph and several local newspapers, previously worked for Last-Lap.co.uk and FeederSeries.net in motorsport, and graduated with a First-Class Journalism Degree from the University of Sheffield having also studied in Oklahoma. Adam started watching F1 by accident in 2007, catching the last race in Indianapolis, and attended his first race as a journalist at the 2023 British Grand Prix.
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