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Norris believes pace was strong enough for P2 in Australia with McLaren 'getting closer' to Ferrari and Red Bull

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MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA - MARCH 24: Third placed Lando Norris of Great Britain and McLaren attends the

Lando Norris was thrilled to return to the podium in the Australian Grand Prix, with the McLaren driver admitting that he felt he potentially had the pace to finish in an even higher position.

After starting from third on the grid, Norris held his place off the line before gaining when Max Verstappen retired from the running only a few laps into the race. However, the Briton lost out to Charles Leclerc during the first round of pit stops and ultimately ended the day in P3, with team mate Oscar Piastri behind in fourth.

READ MORE: Sainz storms to victory amid drama in Australia as Verstappen retires and Russell crashes out

Speaking after jumping out of the car, Norris hailed the strong haul of points for the team following the eventful race, in which Carlos Sainz claimed victory.

“It was a very good day for us,” said Norris. “I’m very happy, proud of the team, P3 and P4 is a lot of points in the championship so that’s the first thing. We missed out on Charles, I think our pace was a little bit better.

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2024 Australian Grand Prix: Pole-sitter Verstappen leads away from Sainz on the race start at Albert Park

“He undercut us in the first stint so maybe a little bit of hope for second place. I think our pace was strong enough today. But Ferrari and Carlos did a very good job, so hats off to them, they’ve been fast all weekend.

“I felt good, I felt like I could manage the tyres very well today and that was a good step. I probably wasn’t expecting to be on the podium, so I’m very happy.”

HIGHLIGHTS: Relive the action from a dramatic Australian Grand Prix as Sainz wins while Verstappen retires

Asked if the result had given him confidence that McLaren could be in a position to fight for more podiums going forwards, Norris sounded positive as he responded: “Yes, it’s clear that this circuit suits us a little bit more, so we’ve been able to push and unlocked a little bit of speed.

MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA - MARCH 24: Lando Norris of Great Britain driving the (4) McLaren MCL38

Norris claimed McLaren's first podium of the year in Australia

“But it’s still another step to Ferrari, to Red Bull. They are one or two steps ahead of us still so we need to catch up, but it’s clear that we’re getting closer, and a day like today proves exactly that.

“A big thanks to all in McLaren. We’re getting closer to our target, it’s nice to be back on the podium again and hopefully we can have many more.”

AS IT HAPPENED: All the action from the 2024 Australian Grand Prix as Verstappen and Hamilton retire

With Norris and Piastri’s points scored in Australia, McLaren now hold a solid third in the constructors’ championship on 55 points.

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