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McLaren chief agrees with Norris: 'Verstappen could have gone faster'

McLaren chief agrees with Norris: 'Verstappen could have gone faster'

26-09-2023 16:41 Last update: 17:34

Lando Norris took his fourth podium of the year in the Japanese Grand Prix. The McLaren driver called the 19-second gap to Max Verstappen "small" and jokingly suggested that the Red Bull Racing driver may not have been trying very hard. His words were reinforced by team boss Andrea Stella.

Verstappen showed absolute dominance from the first free practice session on the Suzuka Circuit. That is precisely why McLaren was somewhat surprised that the gap to Norris at the finish line was 'only' 19 seconds. Like Norris, team boss Stella also reckons the Dutchman took it easy at the Japanese GP.

McLaren pleasantly surprised at Japanese GP

"I'll say that we don't know how much Max effectively pushed," said the 52-year-old Italian to the F1 Nation podcast. "I think he could have gone faster and made this gap even bigger than 19 seconds. At the same time, Lando lost some time under the virtual safety car. We remain realistic as to how much work we have to do."

He continued: "I think even looking at yesterday's qualifying, we tried hard and still we were 6 tenths behind Max. I think today, between 15 and 20 seconds, for us is a positive surprise. We thought we would be farther away from Red Bull and we thought we would be definitely in contention with Ferrari and Mercedes, but we have to say that today we had a bit more pace than Ferrari and Mercedes."