Max Verstappen relay the mini battle with Lando Norris who did a strategic retreat after a go at the Dutchman in F1 Brazil GP.
There was a minor show between Red Bull’s Verstappen and McLaren’s Norris in F1 Brazil GP sprint but the one in the main race was more worthy. For once it looked likely that there will be a battle against Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc, but it wasn’t to be.
After the red flag and the demise of Leclerc, it was Verstappen against the Aston Martin but Norris had a perfect start to jump them and slot into second. The early phase saw the Brit charging at the Dutchman for few laps and even trying a move at Turn 4.
But post that, Norris settled down in a strategic retreat as there was little chance of him getting past Verstappen and retaining the place until the end. It was still a good run which both enjoyed as much with the Brit good lap times still all-through the race.
“I think it was good. I mean, also, maybe it looks fully easy from the outside, but I think for most of every stint, Lando was matching my lap-times,” said Verstappen. “It was always like the last five to ten laps when it seemed like then, of course, we had better tyre deg. But yeah, the beginning of every stint, I definitely had to focus a lot and I couldn’t afford to make mistakes.
“And around here with the high deg as well, it’s not the easiest to drive. It’s not like you can just relax and let the car just roll into the corners without any consequence. You had to be really on it. In that moment, he suddenly closed a lot. I didn’t expect him to have a run into Turn 1, but yeah, I had to use my battery a bit.
“And for one lap, into 1, into 4, I had to defend. And then I had to, of course, try and maintain that gap. But I think what also was very important at that stage of the stint was to really look after the tyres. To make sure that you have a good lap to pit. I don’t mind of course fighting but I’ve also done many years in F1 where you win two races a year and the rest you are driving to be P5, so I’m just enjoying the moment and embracing it and also enjoying driving of course up front with a bit of a gap,” summed up Verstappen.
On the side of Norris, he wanted to try it once and he did so but he knew it was only one go at Verstappen to see if he could pass him. “I mean, I tried,” he said. “I just wasn’t… we struggled too much in Turn 10, Turn 12. It’s where the Red Bull’s extremely competitive and where we struggle, have struggled all weekend.
“Apart from when we’re on new tyres, and of course on that restart, I used my new tyres and Max didn’t. So, I thought if I was going to have one opportunity, it was going to be there and then. So I used all of my battery, and of course, had DRS and then you do start catching them very quickly.
“I had a good line in Turn 1, Turn 2, but Max also had a lot of grip. So, you know, if it was maybe later on in the stint, his line in Turn 1, Turn 2 would have been a lot more compromised and a bigger penalty, but because the tyres were still fresh and provide a lot of grip, he got a good enough exit that I then only got alongside him, just before the braking zone for Turn 4.
“So, I mean, I tried, I would have tried to get past him if I could, and I wanted to, but just a couple more metres would have been lovely. It was a strategic retreat! The opportunity to race against Max was only going to be for a few laps. We weren’t going to find, all of a sudden, the pace we needed to compete against him for a whole race.
“And Fernando was behind me. We know that their race pace, especially when the majority of the time when it’s high deg and certain things that they can have very good race pace. So yesterday he didn’t have clean air, today he was going to be in an opportunity, in a position to potentially just achieve a lot more and I didn’t want to compromise my own race by having one more attempt.
“At the same time, I was low on battery and those types of things. And if you overheat the tyres too much too early you can pay the price quite heavily. I tried. It wasn’t worth a second attempt as much as I would have loved to and I think potentially could have done. Just it wasn’t worth the risk and potential consequences of then being in the hands of Fernando and the people behind. So yeah, it was good fun.
“I thought if there was a little bit more space, or if I was literally a couple metres further down, things could have been a little bit different. But at the same time, to then try to keep Max behind for the rest of the race would have been a whole new challenge. So, good that we’re getting there and I had an attempt. I think that’s one of my first attempts at really trying to race past him, ever, in my career in Formula 1, which is a good thing, but yeah, that last little thing needs to click and then we can do it more often,” summed up Norris.
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