Norris and Ricciardo expect battle to repeat 2021 Italian GP exploits

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McLaren proved to be more competitive this weekend and a wave of grid penalties has given the drivers a second row start, with Norris finishing third on the grid ahead of Ricciardo.

The scenario is reminiscent of last year’s run, when Ricciardo and Norris scored a sensational 1-2 for the team.

But with McLaren’s lead over the front-runners much larger than last year, Norris thinks he and his team-mate are the Red Bulls of Max Verstappen and Sergio Perez, or even the Ferrari of Carlos Sainz, who are coming from the back of the field after grid penalties.

Instead, Norris thinks McLaren will battle for seventh and eighth place on Sunday afternoon.

“Let’s hope it’s not too easy to overtake. I expect Max to come through quickly, Carlos too,” said Norris.

“The Mercedes” [of George Russell] will probably be done pretty soon, so, as bad as I say it, if we could have a seventh and eighth now, I think that’s a realistic target for tomorrow, but also a good result.

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“It’s very simple, there are six cars a lot faster than us, so that’s what we’re going for.”

Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton, who starts in 19th place behind Sainz after also getting a new power unit, fears cars won’t be able to escape the dreaded DRS train and joked that he would like to have his iPad in the car so that he can watch Game of Thrones while stuck in traffic.

Daniel Ricciardo, McLaren, Lando Norris, McLaren, talk after qualifying

Photo By: Steven Tee / Motorsport Images

When asked by TBEN about Hamilton’s comments, Ricciardo thought faster cars could still get through.

“Look, I don’t want to go into the race if I’m negative about it,” replied Ricciardo.

“I think last year was hard to get through the field, but I can’t see it getting any harder than last year, so I think there will be a little bit more racing coming up.

“I think the faster cars can drive through it and DRS trains make it tricky, don’t get me wrong, but I think there will be opportunities.

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“Maybe a race like that is good for us, you know, but I wouldn’t go into the race negatively.”

Commenting on what effect the difference between 2021 and 2022 cars will have on overtaking, Ricciardo added: “I think you can follow a little closer this year, but the slipstream isn’t as strong either, so I don’t know how that is. works out itself.

“I would be surprised if we could really hold out like last year because I think you can stay closer in the second sector.”

At F1’s previous high-speed race, the Belgian Grand Prix, two weeks ago, the McLarens endured a scorching afternoon as poor traction from La Source prevented them from challenging other cars on the next straight at Kemmel.

Lando Norris, McLaren MCL36, Kevin Magnussen, Haas VF-22

Lando Norris, McLaren MCL36, Kevin Magnussen, Haas VF-22

Photo By: Andy Hone / Motorsport Images

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Both Norris and Ricciardo finished out of the points, close to a lap behind winner Verstappen.

But team boss Andreas Seidl believes that while McLaren’s low-downforce restrictions are still in place, the team at Monza has found solutions that should give it a better chance of fighting in traffic.

“I would say we are certainly aware of the challenge ahead of us in the race,” Seidl replied when asked by TBEN whether Spa’s traction problems have been resolved.

“So far this year so far this year on low downforce tracks, when the ambient temperatures are also high, we have struggled to keep up the pace in some races compared to, say, Alpine.

“At the same time, I think we’ve also made some good changes to the car this weekend so far, the team has done a great job of continuing to improve the car.

“We will probably be in a good position to fight with all the cars around us and score points.”