Lando Norris admitted that he’d thought about challenging his McLaren team mate Daniel Ricciardo for the lead mid-way through Sunday’s Italian Grand Prix.
Norris qualified ahead of Ricciardo on Friday but started today’s race from third, one place behind, as a result of the outcome of Saturday’s sprint qualifying race.
He initially lost out to Lewis Hamilton at the start, but quickly retrieved the position when Hamilton was briefly forced wide by Max Verstappen on the opening lap.
He remained in third ahead of Hamilton until Ricciardo kicked off the sequence of pit stops on lap 23, and briefly led the race before making his own stop just before the safety car was scrambled for the dramatic Hamilton/Verstappen accident.
- Read also: Ricciardo leads triumphant McLaren 1-2 at Monza
“This was nice,” Norris said when asked about the battle with Hamilton. “The longer we went I knew it he was going to have an advantage.
“He got me in the end and then with the pitstop it got me out ahead of Max and Lewis and I could have been in that crash,” he said. “It could have ended up how the other two ended up.”
He was in third place for the restart but quickly picked off Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc to take second. “I wanted the inside no matter what,” he said. “Some grass was cut and we got the 1-2.”
Norris said it had proved to be a “pretty awesome weekend” overall for the team as a whole, which last won a Grand Prix in 2012 and claimed its most recent 1-2 in 2010 with Lewis Hamilton and Jenson Button.
“Four years ago I joined the team, so we’ve been working towards this and we got a 1-2 finally, so a good step for us,” he said. “I’m happy for of course Daniel getting the win and me in P2. I’m just happy for the team.
“It’s been strong all weekend. We had the pace – maybe not to overtake a Red Bull or Mercedes – but we had the pace to keep them behind.”
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At one point Norris felt that the Ricciardo’s speed at the front was putting him at risk of being pushed back into the clutches of Leclerc and Sergio Perez.
That prompted him to ask the McLaren pit wall to tell the Aussie to pick up the pace – with an implied “or let me pass” hanging over the radio static.
“I am not going to lie,” he told Sky Sports F1 after the finish. “I could have tried. I asked the team what they wanted to do.
“I think I had the pace to at least try. I can’t say if I would have got Daniel or not, but I could have tried at least.
“Of course you want to go for it, but I am also here for the long term, and for our future this was the best result we could have.
“I just asked the team what do you want me to do – ‘Can I go for it, can I not?'” he continued. “It could have ended up like the other two ended up [Verstappen and Hamilton] so I’m just happy.
“As much as inside I wanted to go for it, I was just as happy to stay in second because I’m a team guy, I love the team,” he said. “I love them, I’ve grown up with them, in a way
“This is the best result I could hope for,” he insisted. “I will get my chance in the future, so it’s all good.
“A big thanks to everyone, all the fans and all the team,” he concluded. “I am just happy. I am happy finishing second and happy for Daniel in first place.
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