Emilia Romagna GP: Lando Norris was ‘praying for one more lap’ to beat Max Verstappen in Imola | F1 News

Lando Norris says he was “praying” for one more lap to beat Max Verstappen at the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix.

Norris was 7.5 seconds behind Verstappen with 20 laps to go but began to make big inroads as he managed his hard tyres better than the Red Bull driver.

The McLaren driver never got DRS on Verstappen but crossed the line just 0.725s behind and had to settle for second in Imola.

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

“I was pushing like hell to catch up to get there and have a chance. As soon as you get within two seconds you lose downforce and grip, the tyres start to overheat.

“I struggled for a couple laps, but once I understood how I had to drive again, I managed to get there on the last lap.

“Seven tenths, one more lap and at least he would have to defend into Turn One and maybe something could have come from that. But one lap too late. It’s a shame, but it is what it is. And we just struggled too much in the beginning of the race.”

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Red Bull’s Max Verstappen and McLaren’s Lando Norris reflect on their final lap battle at the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix.

Norris suggests McLaren set car up wrongly

It was a relatively quiet race before the closing stages as Norris stayed in second place and held off Charles Leclerc at the start.

Leclerc tried to attack Norris after the one and only round of pit stops, before the British driver found his rhythm with the hard tyre.

Since F1 returned to Imola in 2020, Sunday’s race was by far the warmest and Norris says he would have changed the front wing set-up with the knowledge of how hot it was.

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Max Verstappen narrowly held off Lando Norris to claim the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix.

“We were expecting it to be colder than what it was, so we kind of set up the car more for colder conditions rather than hot. I think we paid the price in general,” he explained.

“That’s why I had to do so much of an introduction to the tyres and bring them up gently and look after them because if I didn’t I would have fallen off a cliff like the others did.

“My only chance was to drive my race and that meant being under pressure from Charles for more laps than I would have liked.

“As as soon as I cleared the traffic and got back into my own rhythm then I felt good that it’s the car, the tyres came back to me, I could push and I was happy.”

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Max Verstappen holds off Lando Norris in the opening lap of the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix.

Verstappen overcomes track limits warnings

Verstappen was given a black-and-white flag in the first half of the race for track limits, meaning another breach for going wide would have resulted in a penalty.

The reigning world champion didn’t put a foot wrong though and says the closing laps were “extremely difficult”.

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Christian Horner reflects on Max Verstappen’s winning drive at Imola and whether McLaren and Ferrari will keep challenging Red Bull in races to come.

“I had to be a bit more careful from that point onwards but the problem is, at the beginning I was understeering on the medium and that was pushing me off sometimes when I missed the apex,” said Verstappen.

“After that, on the hards, I left a bit more margin. The last few laps, when Lando was catching, it was harder because I had to use the track as much as I could.

“But we stayed within the lines and it definitely requires a bit more focus. Every exit you have to be really sure what you’re doing.”

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