Norris was “praying for one more lap” in his pursuit of victory at F1 Imola GP

Photo Credit: McLaren Racing
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Lando Norris came home P2 for the Imola Grand Prix in a charging drive, pushing the reigning world champion Max Verstappen right to the last lap, finishing only 0.735s behind the Red Bull.

Norris was left wondering what could’ve been, as he thought had the race been one or two laps longer than the original 63, then the win would’ve been his.

“I was praying for one more lap! I did everything I could,” said Norris.

Having struggled with his rear tyres overheating in the first stint on the mediums, the Brit found himself 7.5 seconds behind Verstappen with 20 laps to go.

In these laps, Norris reeled in the Red Bull, sometimes to the rate of half a second per lap, with Verstappen complaining about driving on ice towards the end.

However, once the McLaren driver caught up, he found himself stuck in the dirty air, unable to make further progress in the final few laps.

“I mean it was just too much, too much to do. I got close but then as soon as you get close the tyres just start to overheat, you lose a lot of downforce and grip and it takes a couple of laps just to understand how to avoid some of that and how to drive in those conditions. Once I understood that it was the last lap and then I caught but it was just too late.”

Having secured his much anticipated maiden win two weeks ago in Miami, Norris looked to have the tools to replicate the success, the McLaren upgrades introduced in Miami translating well to the tight and twisty Imola Circuit.

Having shown pace on two completely different types of circuits, it looks as if the McLaren cars have turned into permanent front-runners, and they now have a car that can challenge for wins and maybe even championships.

Despite being on an upward trend, sitting 4th in the championship on 101 points, 60 behind championship leader Verstappen, Norris was dismissive when asked whether he will be able to keep up these types of performances every weekend.

“I’m not confident enough just to say we’re there, we’re fighting and we’re matching them 100%. It’s clear like in these conditions, the very hot conditions, Max is still that level above and Red Bull I would say are that level above.

“But we’re closer than we ever have been and obviously I’m more confident, the car’s performing at its best.”