Norris eyes Sprint fight with Verstappen after taking P4 in qualifying at Monza
Lando Norris qualified an impressive fourth for the F1 Sprint at Monza – and while the McLaren driver thinks the two Mercedes might be too quick for him, he says he might be able to take on Red Bull’s Max Verstappen in the 18-lap dash on Saturday.
Norris took P4 on the grid for Saturday’s Sprint in Friday evening’s qualifying, finishing just 0.023s behind Verstappen in P3 and 0.006s ahead of team mate Daniel Ricciardo in P5. Asked for his plan for the Sprint – which will set the grid for Sunday's Italian Grand Prix – Norris started off saying he’d approach it with caution…
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He began: “I think we just need to stay where we are. If we can have an opportunity to maybe overtake Max, because I think we’re maybe a bit closer to him. The Mercedes are a long way up the road so I don’t think we’re going to be really racing them; we could have a chance against the Red Bulls you know, we’re ahead of Perez and almost at Max.
“Just to find that little bit of time would have been nice, whatever it was, half a tenth to Max or less than that – half of half a tenth, quarter of a tenth – just that would have been that extra bit lovely but I’m happy with fourth, it’s a good position for tomorrow,” he added.
Ricciardo, however, was frustrated by the small gaps ahead to P4 and P3, having qualified on the third row – alongside 2020 Italian GP winner Pierre Gasly – for Saturday afternoon’s event.
“Honestly when you see like, what, two hundredths from third or something like that? Yes, it’s so small, that’s just frustrating, that’s all. That’s all I can say, it’s just frustrating, so, tomorrow will be fun,” said Ricciardo.
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“I don’t know, I’ve come into this weekend with certainly some internal emotions, positive ones, and yes, today certainly didn’t help those, if you know what I mean. So I’m looking forward to tomorrow and Sunday and it’s probably what I need, it’s a blessing in disguise, and I just want to race now.”
Asked to clarify what he meant, Ricciardo added: “I’m just hungry. I’m hungry. I want it. I’m just... I’m ready to go. Just for me, just to go and have some fun.
“But we’re in a good spot, I mean it was obviously a great qualifying for us, but when you’re so close it’s just more painful I guess,” he concluded.