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Norris thrilled with ‘surprise’ Chinese GP podium as he reveals pre-race Ferrari bet

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SHANGHAI, CHINA - APRIL 21: Second placed Lando Norris of Great Britain and McLaren celebrates in

Lando Norris expressed his delight – and surprise – at finishing on the podium during Sunday’s Chinese Grand Prix, while also revealing that he had made a bet over “how far behind” McLaren would be relative to Ferrari.

Norris started the race fourth, behind the two Red Bull drivers and Fernando Alonso’s Aston Martin, but emerged from an action-packed encounter in second position, splitting race winner Max Verstappen and third-placed Sergio Perez.

READ MORE: Verstappen charges to victory over Norris and Perez in action-packed Chinese GP

It came after Norris stopped just once, compared to the two completed by Verstappen and Perez, with a mid-race Virtual Safety Car, and subsequent Safety Car, allowing him to complete a less costly pit stop under neutralised conditions.

Norris emerged from that sole pit lane visit ahead of Perez and, despite the Mexican’s efforts over the final stint, the McLaren proved too fast for the Red Bull – earning the Woking team their best result of the season so far.

2024 Chinese Grand Prix: Alonso jumps Perez for P2 as Verstappen leads away at the race start

Asked to reflect on the performance, Norris said: “Surprised, so I’m very happy! I’m happy for the whole team, they deserved it… good pit stops, today just worked out.

“I don’t know why, I really wasn’t expecting it to be the kind of race we had today, but I got comfortable, managed the tyres a lot, which was a much easier task than what I had [in the Sprint] yesterday.

AS IT HAPPENED: Follow all the Chinese Grand Prix action as Verstappen takes victory

“I could just push. The car felt great and I felt comfortable, so it’s a good day, good points and another podium [after finishing third in Australia]. I’m very happy.”

As for whether he was surprised to be quicker than Perez, Norris added: “I was surprised by many things – the lack of pace from Ferrari today, our good pace, and I guess more us comparing to the Red Bull which was so surprising.

SHANGHAI, CHINA - APRIL 21: Lando Norris of Great Britain driving the (4) McLaren MCL38 Mercedes

Norris was surprised to finish ahead of both Ferraris, and between the Red Bulls, in China

“I just wasn’t expecting today at all. I got everything ready to go home early and not be on podium! It’s a pleasant surprise, but it shows the team have done a good job, we’re working hard and it’s paying off.”

At this point Norris revealed a pre-race ‘bet’ as to how far McLaren would finish behind Ferrari – only for Charles Leclerc and Carlos Sainz to cross the line 10 and 20 seconds behind him respectively.

DRIVER OF THE DAY: Superb P2 drive in Shanghai gets your vote for Norris

“I made a bet to how far behind the Ferrari we would finish today!” Norris smiled. “I thought 35 seconds and I was very wrong by that. I’m happy to be wrong with myself from my own bets, but it’s a good day for everyone.”

Oscar Piastri added to McLaren’s points haul in eighth, having picked up damage in an incident with Aston Martin’s Lance Stroll and RB’s Daniel Ricciardo under the Safety Car, meaning the squad leave China holding a solid third in the constructors’ standings.

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