Lando Norris shows 'surprising' early pace at Mexico City Grand Prix practice
McLaren driver Lando Norris wasted no time in making his mark during practice for the Mexico City Grand Prix, setting a blistering pace that caught even him by surprise.
Fresh from a podium finish in the United States, Norris proved his mettle by trailing Red Bull's Max Verstappen in a thrilling duel at the Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez.
In a display of sheer skill, Norris finished the practice session second quickest, trailing Verstappen by a mere 0.119 seconds. His lap time of 1:18.805 on the Soft compound Pirellis showcased his potential to challenge the Red Bull juggernaut.
Despite his impressive performance, Norris was quick to acknowledge the challenges presented by the Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez. He had earlier cautioned that the track might not favour McLaren's MCL60 package, with its abundance of slow-speed corners. However, he defied the odds and showcased his prowess during low-fuel runs, demonstrating the team's adaptability and resilience.
Speaking to F1 TV, Norris reflected on his performance, saying, "Many drivers were within three-tenths, but I think it was a good Friday and good start to the weekend." His humility and drive to improve were evident as he added, "I did a very good lap, maybe it was too good for this early in the weekend, but we'll continue to try and improve."
This early show of strength is no anomaly for Norris and McLaren. The young Briton emphasized the team's consistent ability to kickstart race weekends with precision. "We generally always start weekends off quite well, and we always have a good idea of where to put the car to begin with, and it's not far normally where we end up."
Yet, Norris remains grounded, recognizing that the path to victory is fraught with challenges. To challenge Red Bull, led by the indomitable Verstappen, for pole position and the race win, Norris acknowledged, "I think it is going to be tough around here." The street circuit in Mexico City demands a combination of finesse, tire strategy, and unwavering precision, and Norris is well aware of the daunting task ahead.
The Mexico City Grand Prix unfolds at the renowned Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez, nestled in the heart of Mexico's capital. The track's silky-smooth surface typically translates to minimal tire degradation, placing a premium on track position and tire selection due to the limited overtaking opportunities on the 4.304km circuit. The race promises to be a strategic battle, with the teams and drivers having to make tactical decisions to secure an advantage.
As the Formula 1 circus descends upon Mexico City, Lando Norris has signalled his intent, setting an early benchmark that Red Bull and the rest of the grid can't ignore. The gauntlet has been thrown, and the Mexico City Grand Prix is poised to deliver another thrilling chapter in the Formula 1 season, with Norris vying for glory against Verstappen and the formidable Red Bull team.