Lando Norris believes McLaren can open up the F1 title fight when they head to Monaco for Sunday’s Grand Prix.

The 24-year-old finished in the top two of the previous three grand prix, claiming his maiden victory in Miami.

He threatened to finish ahead of Max Verstappen for a second time at Imola last Sunday with a late charge, but finished within one second of the Red Bull driver.

Looking back at the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix, Norris said while he is sure he could have done things differently, he sticks by his choices.

"I did everything I believed was right at the time," Norris told Sky Sports.

"When it's so close you always think 'What really could I have done that little bit differently,' but you always could have done something a little bit better or a little bit differently. I'm sure Max could have reviewed things and said the same thing.

"But nice to know it wasn't an easy one for him. It's about time someone put him under pressure, and he felt a bit of nerves again because I'm sure he hasn't felt it for a while.

"I don't want to be overconfident - that's never been me - but we want to come into races now and be confident in racing against the Red Bull, racing against Ferrari because we are in the mix with them."

Before the race at Imola, Norris said he believed McLaren were not quite ready to challenge Red Bull for the title this year.

The Briton currently sits fourth in the standings, 60 points behind Verstappen, but he now thinks they can count themselves in the running this year.

"We're a third of the way through so we have a very long way to go, so I think many, many things can happen," he added.

"But also, Monaco is a place where anything can happen. So, I would never say 'no' anymore.

"I've got fed up of myself kind of underestimating what we can achieve as a team. So, we're going to come in, we're positive, we've had a very good run of results - second, first, second - and there's no reason why we shouldn't be able to continue that here in Monaco.

"It's not known to be our best track but, at the same time, anything can happen."

Lando Norris is excited to see McLaren emerging as the foremost challengers to Red Bull, after he narrowly missed out on a second straight win at the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix.

Norris started second at Imola on Sunday as a grid penalty dropped his McLaren team-mate Oscar Piastri to fifth. 

It initially looked like Norris might face a battle for second as Charles Leclerc closed on him, but he found extraordinary pace late on as leader Max Verstappen started to struggle.

Verstappen complained of grip problems over team radio as Norris drew within 0.7 seconds of the world champion by the final lap, but he was just unable to pass him in a tense finish.

"It hurts me to say it, but one or two more laps and I think I would have had him," Norris told Sky Sports. 

"It's tough. I just lost out too much to Max in the beginning. He was stronger in the first stint.

"We are at a point now where we can say we are in a position with Ferrari and Red Bull. We have to get used to it. We are fighting for first and second now.

"It is still a surprise to say we are disappointed not to win, but it is what we should start to expect."

Norris has now managed four podium finishes in the last five races, and he sits fourth in the drivers' championship standings, six points behind Sergio Perez in third.

He finished second at the Chinese Grand Prix last month, then beat Verstappen to claim his first race win in Miami in early May, benefitting from effective upgrades to McLaren's MCL38 car.

"Hopefully, it continues like that because it's exciting, it's tough, and it gets you excited every weekend, so I'm looking forward to the next few," he said.

"We also had a second in China, so we've had second, first, second, and I think that’s a good sign."

Max Verstappen held off a charging Lando Norris on the final lap to get back to winning ways at the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix on Sunday.

Having equalled Ayrton Senna's record of eight successive pole positions on Saturday, the three-time world champion initially looked set for a comfortable victory.

It looked like third might be the best Norris could manage, but the Briton found great pace late on and ultimately challenged for the win, as Verstappen expressed frustration over Red Bull team radio, saying he was struggling for grip when turning.

Norris pulled within 0.7 seconds of Verstappen on the final lap, but he was ultimately unable to follow up his win at the Miami Grand Prix last time out as the drivers' championship leader clung on.

Charles Leclerc captured third for Ferrari in front of an enthusiastic Italian crowd, with Oscar Piastri finishing fourth after his grid penalty meant he started the race fifth instead of second.

Carlos Sainz was fifth ahead of Mercedes duo Lewis Hamilton and George Russell, with Verstappen's team-mate Sergio Perez only managing eighth, meaning he now trails Leclerc in the standings.

Data debrief: Verstappen follows Schumacher 

On Saturday, Verstappen became the first driver with back-to-back poles at Imola since Michael Schumacher in 2002 and 2003. One day later, he became just the second driver to win on three successive visits to the track, after the German achieved that feat between 2002 and 2004.

Verstappen is also into the top six in the all-time F1 charts for podium finishes, his 104th here moving him ahead of Kimi Raikkonen outright in the rankings.

Oscar Piastri insists he is still targeting a podium finish, despite receiving a grid penalty ahead of the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix.

The McLaren driver had initially qualified in second place behind Drivers' Championship leader Max Verstappen, with the Australian's teammate Lando Norris in third.

However, Piastri has since been handed a three-place grid drop after he impeded Kevin Magnussen while exiting the pits during Q1.

The 23-year-old admitted he could not see Magnusson at the chicane at Turns 2 and 3, and tried to get clear of the Dane as quickly as possible, though the steward's review highlighted McLaren's failure to give him sufficient warning that a faster car was approaching.

Nevertheless, Piastri did not let the penalty detract from a generally positive display during qualifying, which subsequently sees Norris take second place on the grid, with the Ferrari pair of Charles Leclerc and Carlos Sainz leapfrogging him to third and fourth respectively.

"I'm really happy with the performance today," he said. "We were so close to pole on track.

"I've been really comfortable with the car from the moment we put it on track yesterday, and I am enjoying my first GP weekend here. We've definitely been on the pace all weekend and confidence is high.

"It is a shame to lose the front row and having to start from P5 as it’s not the easiest track to overtake on. However, we will try our best to recover some positions and fight to finish on the podium."

Max Verstappen takes pole position at the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix, equalling Ayrton Senna’s record in the process.

It is Verstappen’s eighth consecutive pole in Formula One after he recorded a best time of 1:14.746 around the track in the final qualification session for Sunday’s race.

The Dutchman will share the front row with Oscar Piastri, though he may receive a penalty for impeding Kevin Magnussen in Q1.

Piastri’s McLaren team-mate Lando Norris finished just behind him in third, while the two Ferraris, Charles Leclerc and Carlos Sainz, rounded out the top five after failing to build on their strong starts.

Red Bull’s Sergio Perez failed to make it past Q2 after dropping to 11th, while Fernando Alonso was forced to pit before the end of Q3, finishing last. 

Lando Norris says McLaren still need more time if they want to challenge Red Bull consistently after taking his maiden victory in the Miami Grand Prix.

Norris was helped by a well-timed safety car that allowed him to jump ahead of Max Verstappen in Miami to become just the third different driver to win a Grand Prix this season.

The 24-year-old currently sits fourth in the F1 drivers’ standings after three podium finishes, and he expects another competitive race at the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix on Sunday.

"I'm confident we can make steps forward, but I've made it clear we're not going to be there every weekend," Norris said.

"We need more if we are to challenge Red Bull and Ferrari more consistently.

"We definitely took a step forward, but other teams have upgrades, too. So, we're not getting ahead of ourselves.

"I still think we’re the third-best team at the moment, but that could change if we have another good weekend here, and I'm confident with our rate of development that by next year we can challenge a lot more often for wins and, in the big picture, challenge for the title."

Norris’ victory in Florida followed a major aerodynamic development to the McLaren, and he believes it will be an even better match to the track on Sunday.

"We are just better suited for Imola, potentially the upgrade a little bit as well,” he added.

"Imola has generally been one of our more successful tracks - and for me as driver."

Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff has refused to rule out meeting with Max Verstappen to discuss a potential switch from Red Bull, though he says the Silver Arrows are also looking at other drivers.

Verstappen looks unlikely to be denied a fourth straight world championship after starting 2024 with four wins from six races, though he was beaten by Lando Norris at Sunday's Miami Grand Prix.

However, the Dutchman's future has become a subject of discussion amid a difficult period for Red Bull behind the scenes.

Team principal Christian Horner was accused and later cleared of engaging in controlling behaviour towards a female employee earlier this year, while chief technical officer Adrian Newey is stepping back from his role and will be free to join another team in early 2025.

While Verstappen's contract with Red Bull runs through 2028, reports have suggested he could follow in the footsteps of Lewis Hamilton and exercise a break clause to push through a huge move.

Ferrari's Carlos Sainz has also been linked with Mercedes after seeing the Scuderia promise his 2025 seat to Hamilton, and Wolff says the team have plenty of irons in the fire.

Asked if he was keen to meet with Verstappen, Wolff said: "There's always plenty of meetings. I can't really say about the second driver. I think we've talked about the possibilities. 

"I want to be fair to these guys and not make it look like we are playing chess with humans, because we are not doing that.

"I think we want to take our time, see where Max's thinking goes, and at the same time monitor the other drivers. Carlos was very strong in Miami again and that's why we are a little bit on observation mode at the moment."

Verstappen has said the strength of teams' cars after regulation changes are implemented in 2026 will inform any decision on his future, and Wolff says the Dutchman is right to bide his time. 

"I was him I wouldn't leave, at least for 2025, but he's the leading driver, he's the top guy at the moment and that's why it's for him to take those decisions," Wolff said.

"There may not be any decisions to take, maybe everything continues like it is, but that is then also guidance for us."

Jamaican Formula One enthusiasts turned out in force on Sunday at the AC Hotel Conference Room to witness the Miami Grand Prix, with the venue packed to capacity as patrons enjoyed a thrilling race-day experience as Lando Norris took his maiden F1 victory at the Miami International Autodrome, racing from fifth on the grid to finish seven seconds clear of three-time world champion Max Verstappen

The event, organized by Heineken Jamaica, drew a full house of fans who relished drinks and a lavish all-you-can-eat buffet, complemented by exotic Heineken-infused concoctions like "Heineken brewed passion" and "Heineken Brujitos." Prior to the race, attendees engaged in virtual racing on consoles, adding to the excitement and anticipation.

One of the standout attractions was a Ferrari displayed at the venue, owned by Member of Parliament Hugh Graham, which drew admiring looks and photo opportunities from attendees.

 Rising young racer Tommi Gore, son of Jamaica's racing icon Doug Gore, was also present, adding a touch of local motorsport flair to the event.

Patrons enjoying the Miami Grand Prix at the AC Hotel Conference Room in Kingston on Sunday.

 Amoye Phillpotts-Brown, Brand Manager for Heineken Jamaica, highlighted the motivation behind the activation, emphasizing the aim to bring the electrifying Miami Grand Prix experience directly to Jamaican fans.

 "Heineken is a global partner for F1, and this year, we decided to bring the Miami Grand Prix to Jamaicans," explained Phillpotts-Brown. "We wanted to create a high-end, premium event similar to what you'd experience at the race itself. Miami Grand Prix is known for its energy, and we wanted to capture that for our fans here."

 Phillpotts-Brown also emphasized the importance of responsible consumption and showcased Heineken's innovative product, Heineken 0.0, catering to those looking for a non-alcoholic option.

 Reflecting on the event's success, Phillpotts-Brown noted the overwhelming response from fans: "It's a really good crowd, and we actually had to close out our list due to the high level of interest. Within hours of sending out invitations, we had over 150 sign-ups, highlighting the enthusiasm for Formula One in Jamaica."

Amoye Phillpotts-Brown (left) with Tommi Gore and Hanna Turner Junior Brand Manager at Heineken.

 Looking ahead, Phillpotts-Brown expressed intentions to continue fostering interest in Formula One through similar events, with plans to potentially activate around the upcoming Canadian Grand Prix in June.

 The Miami Grand Prix viewing event exemplified the growing passion and excitement for Formula One racing among Jamaican fans, fueled by immersive experiences crafted by Heineken Jamaica.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Lewis Hamilton was delighted to see his former team McLaren back on top as Lando Norris claimed his first Formula One victory at the Miami Grand Prix on Sunday.

Norris raced from fifth on the grid to beat Max Verstappen by seven seconds at the Miami International Autodrome, becoming just the second driver – after Ferrari's Carlos Sainz – to overcome the three-time world champion this year.

Norris' victory made him the 21st British driver to win an F1 race but the first since George Russell took the honours at the 2022 Sao Paulo Grand Prix, while Russell's Mercedes team-mate Hamilton has not recorded a victory since the 2021 Saudi Arabian Grand Prix.

Hamilton won the first of his seven drivers' championships with McLaren in 2008, and he is pleased to see his former team challenging the dominance of Red Bull.

"I'm really happy for Lando," Hamilton told Sky Sports after the race. "I just told him he needs to stay tonight, he's got to change his flight home – he just won a race!

"It's a special moment to win your first Grand Prix. I started at McLaren and I'm really happy to see them back at the top. It's been a long time."

McLaren are third in the constructors' championship standings with 124 points through six races of the season, 63 behind Ferrari in second and 60 clear of fourth-placed Mercedes.

A gap of over 18 seconds separated the two Silver Arrows on Sunday as Russell finished eighth, two places behind Hamilton, and he was at a loss to explain his lack of pace.

"I don't think it caught us off guard. I just had no pace at all. It was just a lot worse than expected," Russell said.

"My race pace has been pretty strong this year but compared to Lewis I was nowhere. We need to check and see what happened and go from there.

"We lost even more points but as I said yesterday, we know where we are as a team. We're a long way from where we want to be."

Max Verstappen believes Lando Norris' victory at the Miami Grand Prix will not be his last in Formula One, having been unable to match the McLaren star's pace in Florida.

Norris took his maiden F1 victory at the Miami International Autodrome, racing from fifth on the grid to finish seven seconds clear of three-time world champion Verstappen.

Verstappen started on pole but struggled to match Norris' pace on the hard tyres as he failed to win a race for just the second time this season.

The Red Bull driver has four victories in six outings in 2024, having retired at the Australian Grand Prix in March as Ferrari's Carlos Sainz took the spoils.

Speaking after Sunday's race, Verstappen said: "You win, you lose. We're all used to that in racing, right? Today was a bit tricky.

"I think already on the medium tyres it didn't feel fantastic, we were pulling away but not like it should be. Then once we made a pit stop I heard the lap times McLaren were doing and I was like, 'Well, that's pretty quick!'

"Once they also switched onto the hard tyre, they just had more pace, especially Lando – he was flying. It was incredibly difficult for us on that stint, but if a bad day is P2 I'll take it.

"I'm very happy for Lando, it's been a long time coming and it's not going to be his last one, so he definitely deserves it today."

Some have suggested McLaren may be the most likely team to challenge Red Bull's dominance this year, having arrived in Miami with a raft of upgrades to their MCL38 car.

Asked whether Sunday's race was a true representation of McLaren's pace, Verstappen said: "I hope not! 

"They came with an upgrade, for sure it looks like it works so we have a bit of work to do from our side.

"I think it definitely wasn't our strongest weekend in terms of race pace, but we'll analyse it all and try to come back stronger."

Lando Norris said it was “about time” after he claimed his maiden Formula 1 victory in the Miami Grand Prix on Sunday.

The 24-year-old started the race in fifth but took the chequered flag with a seven-second advantage over Max Verstappen, who had taken pole position.

Norris capitalised with a timely pit stop behind the safety car following a crash between Kevin Magnussen and Logan Sargeant, who was unable to finish the race.

Verstappen had led for the first 29 laps despite missing the chicane on lap 21 and hitting a bollard, but when the race restarted with 27 remaining, he struggled to keep pace with Norris, who was the quickest car on the track.

Charles Leclerc rounded out the podium, pipping his Ferrari team-mate Carlos Sainz to third, with Sergio Perez just beating Lewis Hamilton to a top-five finish.

After getting his first win in his 110th F1 race, Norris was quick to praise his team for their hard work in the process.

Speaking to Sky Sports, he said: "About time! What a race. It's been a long time coming. Finally, I've managed to do it.

"I'm so happy for my whole team. I finally delivered for them. Long day, tough race. Finally, on top, so I'm over the moon.

"Thanks to McLaren, everyone. I'll give a shout-out to my mum and dad, of course.

"I'm just proud. A lot of people doubted me along the way. I've made a lot of mistakes over my last five years in my short career, but today we put it altogether.

"This is all for the team. I stuck with McLaren because I could believe in them and do believe in them. Today we proved exactly that." 

Lando Norris fears Max Verstappen’s “boring” dominance of Formula One is forcing fans away.

Verstappen became the first driver this century to start the season with five consecutive pole positions after a crushing performance in qualifying for Sunday’s Chinese Grand Prix.

The Dutchman, 26, saw off Red Bull team-mate Sergio Perez by 0.322 seconds at the Shanghai International Circuit to take top spot, after he earlier raced from fourth to first in the 19-lap sprint race.

Remarkably, since Verstappen beat Lewis Hamilton to the 2021 world championship in Abu Dhabi, the Red Bull driver has won 37 of the 48 races staged, and he is firmly on course to wrap up his fourth title in as many seasons.

Mercedes boss Toto Wolff has already said that Verstappen will not be caught – despite there being 20 races of this record-breaking 24-race season left.

And speaking ahead of the fifth round of the campaign in China, Norris, considered to be Verstappen’s best friend on the grid, said: “It is frustrating for people watching but it has always been like this.

“Now, we are seeing more dominance than ever, so it is never going to be the best to watch and the only exciting races have been the ones that Max is not in.”

Asked if he was concerned Verstappen’s stranglehold on the sport could be a turn-off for fans, Norris replied: “Of course it is going to be. Of course it is going be. There is no way you can say it won’t be.

“If you see the same driver winning every single time without a fight then of course it does start to become boring and that is obvious.

“You have got one of the best drivers ever in Formula One, in one of the most dominant cars and it is a combination that is deadly. If Max wasn’t there and you had two (Sergio) Perezs it wouldn’t be the case.”

Verstappen struggled for speed in the early stages of Saturday’s sprint race but he caught, and overtook, Lewis Hamilton on the ninth lap and then pulled out an eye-watering two seconds on the Mercedes driver in just one lap. He took the chequered flag 13 sec clear.

Fernando Alonso was the closest non-Red Bull finisher to Verstappen in qualifying but the Spaniard was almost half-a-second back.

Norris, 24, continued: “Am I surprised how far Red Bull is ahead? No. When you know how tricky it is to get it right, then it makes sense. They are just smart people.

“You hope teams plateau and we are starting to get there but at the same time to suddenly jump and catch them (Red Bull), it just doesn’t work like that.”

Mercedes, behind Red Bull, Ferrari and Norris’ McLaren in the constructors’ standings, are a team far removed from the one which dominated the sport.

Hamilton will start 18th in China on Sunday, with team-mate George Russell only eighth on the grid.

Norris, who qualified fourth, added: “If you look at how dominant Mercedes have been in the past, you would have expected more from them. I did, especially how much over the last few years they have said: ‘ah, now we have got it’, and they never seem to.

“We have had that, where we have hit another roadblock, so it is tricky. But they were almost more competitive last year than they are now and you just wouldn’t expect that from them. But it shows how complicated this sport can be.”

Max Verstappen denied Lewis Hamilton the first sprint win of his career after passing his rival to win in China on Saturday.

Hamilton started second, and rolled back the years at the Shanghai International Circuit by beating pole-sitter Lando Norris off the line, and taking control of the 19-lap charge to the chequered flag.

But Verstappen, who started fourth, ended Hamilton’s dream of re-entering the winner’s enclosure for the first time in 867 days when he blasted past the Mercedes driver on the ninth lap.

Verstappen crossed the line 13 seconds clear of Hamilton with Sergio Perez taking third.

Hamilton joined Norris to form an all-British front-row in something of a topsy-turvy grid following yesterday’s rain-hit qualifying session.

The seven-time world champion was quicker away from his marks than Norris, and as they entered the first corner, he was fractionally ahead of his compatriot.

Hamilton hugged the inside line of the long, right-handed first bend, with Norris desperately trying to remain at least on level terms.

But off the racing line, Norris struggled for grip, and he slid off the track, dropping back down the field to seventh.

Hamilton, who has endured the worst-ever start to a season in his misfiring Mercedes machine, was back in the lead of an F1 race, with Fernando Alonso tucked in behind and Verstappen being forced to fend off Carlos Sainz.

“Why is my battery flat,” yelled Verstappen as he struggled to make any impression on Alonso ahead.

For a moment, it looked as though Hamilton could be in a position to take the victory – his first of any sort in F1 since the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix on December 5, 2021, only for Verstappen to sensationally unlock the speed in his all-conquering Red Bull machine.

On the seventh lap, Verstappen passed Alonso at the penultimate corner and then set about closing the 1.8-second gap to Hamilton.

The Mercedes driver was immediately on the radio. “This thing won’t turn in the low-speed corners,” he bemoaned, with Verstappen taking a second out of his lead in just one lap.

At the start of lap nine, Verstappen was crawling all over the back of Hamilton’s mirrors in scenes reminiscent of their championship battle for the ages back in 2021.

Hamilton’s race engineer Peter Bonnington came on the intercom to tell Hamilton that Verstappen was behind.

“Leave me to it, man,” snapped Hamilton. “I can see him.”

Verstappen moved into Hamilton’s tow on the 210mph drag to the last-but one corner before jinking to the right of the Mercedes and launching his Red Bull up the inside.

Hamilton was unable to afford any sort of resistance and Verstappen made the move stick. He then demonstrated the speed of his Red Bull by establishing a two-second lead in just one lap.

Further back, and Alonso, 43 this summer, was commendably keeping a gaggle of faster cars behind.

But his resistance ended on a fascinating 16th lap which saw him go wheel-to-wheel with the Ferrari of Sainz.

Alonso and Sainz even banged wheels through the seventh corner with Perez able to sneak ahead of the duelling duo. Charles Leclerc followed through, too, as Alonso lost three places in one lap before diving into the pits with a front-right puncture. He later retired the car.

Sainz then appeared to force team-mate Leclerc off the road as they battled for fourth position in the closing stages.

“What the f***,” yelled Leclerc who managed to pass his team-mate a few corners later to finished fourth. Sainz crossed the line in fifth with Norris sixth.

Speaking after the race, Hamilton said he was pleased with the result.

“This is the best result I have had in a long time so I am super happy,” he said.

“This is a huge step and a huge improvement. The rain helped yesterday. The race was tough and if I started further back I would have struggled to make progress.”

Lando Norris said it was “all or nothing” as he mastered a rain-hit qualifying to secure pole position for Saturday’s sprint race at the Chinese Grand Prix.

In treacherous conditions in Shanghai, Norris tip-toed his McLaren to top spot, finishing 1.2 seconds clear of Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton in an all-British front row for Saturday’s 19-lap dash.

For a moment Hamilton, who has endured his worst start ever to a season, looked to have taken a surprise pole when Norris’ best lap was chalked off for exceeding track limits at the final corner.

But the stewards U-turned on their decision after it became evident the 23-year-old had not gained an advantage as he scrambled for grip while gearing up for his pole lap.

Aston Martin’s Fernando Alonso will line up from third for Saturday’s sprint race, one position ahead of Max Verstappen who struggled in the inclement conditions in his all-conquering Red Bull.

“It was wild,” said Norris. “You always know it is going to be in a session like this.

“You only have three laps. The first two I aborted so that last lap was all or nothing. I was nervous because I made a few mistakes, but you have to risk a lot and push and I was quick.

“I got a good final lap in for pole so I am happy. I am sad it is not real qualifying, but it is good enough. It gets your heart going and it is what we wanted.”

On Formula One’s return to China after a five-year absence, rain threatened throughout qualifying and it finally arrived for the decisive Q3 session.

Charles Leclerc was the first to fall foul of the downpour when he lost control of his Ferrari. The Monegasque pirouetted through the gravel before hitting the wall at Turn 2 and breaking the front wing on his Ferrari. He had to settle for seventh.

Verstappen made not one, but two uncharacteristic mistakes – driving off the road in his first attempt at pole, before later running through the sandtrap at the final corner.

Mercedes’ wretched run had appeared set to continue here after George Russell was eliminated in 11th in the dry – but when the rain landed, Hamilton looked at home as he secured his spot on the front row.

“I am so happy,” said the 39-year-old, who failed to finish inside the top six at any of the opening four rounds.

“When I saw the rain coming I was getting excited because in the dry we are not quick enough. I thought I would have a better opportunity and that is when it all came alive.

“Tomorrow depends on the conditions and if it is like that, maybe we will have a chance of being somewhere up there, but if it is dry the Ferraris and Red Bull will come by.”

Earlier, the start of Q2 was delayed by several minutes following a second bizarre track fire of the day.

Practice was red-flagged when a patch of grass next to Turn 7 caught fire. And in qualifying the grass was ablaze again, this time at Turn 5.

Although both fires were quickly extinguished, the incidents – which the FIA believes were caused by sparks flying off the drivers’ cars – will be a concern for the sport’s bosses.

Saturday’s sprint takes place at 11am local time (04:00 BST) ahead of qualifying for Sunday’s main event.

Lando Norris has dismissed suggestions from dominant Red Bull duo Max Verstappen and Sergio Perez that they could struggle for pace in Sunday’s Japanese Grand Prix.

Verstappen took pole position to continue his run of locking out the first spot on the grid so far this season, while Perez was just 0.066 seconds slower to secure his place on the front row.

Norris emerged from a pack of cars all running very similar times to take the place as best of the rest for McLaren on another Saturday where it was Red Bull who shone.

Despite a 27th qualifying one-two for the Red Bull team, both drivers were quick to point out they are not as happy with their longer race pace.

Having run with their race set-up in the final practice session ahead of qualifying, Verstappen complained: “So far, I haven’t been happy with my long runs. The pace wasn’t what I would have liked, so there’s a bit of a question mark going into tomorrow.

“Our race pace is still not too bad, but it’s not how I have been feeling in some of the races this year, last year, as comfortable, let’s say it like that.”

Perez, meanwhile, echoed the views of his team-mate: “Let’s see what we are able to do tomorrow,” he said.

“I don’t think we are looking great at the moment in our long run pace, but we’ve done some changes and hopefully that will translate into our race pace.”

However, Norris did not seem to buy the suggestions that Red Bull may have any sort of Sunday struggles.

“Obviously last year I was side by side with Max into turn one. So hopefully trying to redo that,” he said of his plans for the race.

“But it’s tricky. They’re quick. They complained about their race pace, but I don’t think they’ve had a bad race in the last four or five years, so I think they’re going to be good tomorrow.

“Of course we’ve got a lot of pressure from behind so we have to keep an eye on the mirrors. But at the same time I want to go forward and I think we have pace to stay where we are, so that’s my goal.

“That will be our target for tomorrow. But I think realistically, we’re still too far away to challenge them. They’re too quick for us. Yes, we are quicker in qualifying, but in the race, normally, they always pull away a bit more.

“So, I think we’ll be realistic. I’m always realistic when I say it. So I think our competition is with the guys behind and at the same time, I’ll do my best to push forward.”

Carlos Sainz won in Australia last time out and will start Sunday’s race fourth for Ferrari, with the Aston Martin of Fernando Alonso fifth.

Oscar Piastri was sixth-fastest in the second McLaren, while Lewis Hamilton and George Russell are down in seventh and ninth respectively – with Mercedes later fined 5,000 euros for an unsafe pit-lane release of Russell.

Charles Leclerc is sandwiched between the pair, with home favourite Yuki Tsunoda rounding out the top 10.

Tsunoda scraped into the final session, eliminating RB team-mate Daniel Ricciardo at the end of Q2 to the roar of the Suzuka crowd.

Nico Hulkenberg, Valtteri Bottas, Alex Albon and Esteban Ocon also failed to make it through and will start 12-15th, respectively.

Lance Stroll, Pierre Gasly, Kevin Magnussen, Logan Sargeant and Zhou Guanyu were knocked out in Q1.

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