Norris name-drops surprise McLaren rival around ‘abnormal’ Monaco

Lando Norris has revealed an interesting rival for McLaren at the Monaco Grand Prix, as he and his team prepare for the “unnatural” challenge in the principality.

The 24-year-old felt the Woking outfit had a “reasonable” first day on the streets of Monte Carlo, but was quick to highlight the pace of Charles Leclerc and Ferrari.

The one-time race winner has also pointed to Mercedes as a threat, with the eight-time constructors' champion looking more competitive in Monaco than in the early part of the season. Lewis Hamilton topped the first free practice session, and was within two tenths of Leclerc's lead in the second simulator-based free practice session.

Therefore, Norris feels that his team may face a “difficult day” when the cars return to the track for FP3 and qualifying.

“We look good there, but not in terms of speed,” Norris joked in reference to the Ayrton Senna tribute livery that McLaren will launch this weekend, when asked by F1TV On how the team faced off against Red Bull in Monaco.

“I think we're not bad at all, things are always difficult here… I think it's a reasonable first day. We're definitely a bit lacking compared to Charles. [Leclerc] And Ferrari. Maybe the Mercedes – the Mercedes looks pretty fast too.

“So, I think everyone is tight, just because it's a small, seedy track, but we're at the top.

“We have a little bit to find, and I think it's going to be a tough day, but we're in the fight, so that's the main thing.”

Monaco deal

McLaren was in the chase alongside Mercedes during FP1, with Norris three-tenths of a second behind Hamilton. Oscar Piastri was less than half a tenth behind the seven-time drivers' champion.

However, in FP2, Norris ran on used soft tyres, meaning he could only get within seven tenths of Leclerc. At the same time, his colleague did not run at the fastest speed in the Pirelli group, as he recorded a lap time more than a second faster, on medium tires.

After the session, Norris stated that McLaren would focus on several matters overnight, as it looks to take a step forward in qualifying, while also explaining the complexities of racing in Monaco.

“It's a few different things, but the main thing you want here is to control the slow speed,” he said.

“So, trying to take risks with the balance, and get good balance to help with that, and also just driving – the better the car can go over the bumps, and the softer it feels almost, the better it feels as well.

“But there is a trade-off – if you try to do it too much, you will lose overall performance and vice versa.

“So, it's complicated and we tried some things today, so hopefully we can figure it out and get better.”


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