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Norris declares sprint “a good warm-up” for Hamilton defence

Norris declares sprint “a good warm-up” for Hamilton defence

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Lando Norris has claimed the 18-lap Monza sprint proved to be “a good warm-up” for mounting his defence against Lewis Hamilton in the Italian Grand Prix.

Norris scored his career-best result in finishing runner-up to team-mate Daniel Ricciardo as McLaren scored its first one-two since 2010.

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After initially losing position to Hamilton at the start of Sunday’s race, Norris took advantage of the first moment of contact later on lap one between title rivals Hamilton and Max Verstappen to reclaim the third place from which he had started.

Until lap 24, the McLaren driver was successful in his podium defence until just before the pit stop phase when Hamilton finally managed to pass.

But a slow stop for Hamilton allowed Norris to overcut before the seven-time champion was then involved in his spectacular crash with Verstappen that took both of the championship contenders out of the race.

“Yeah, I think I had a good warm-up for that on Saturday with 18 laps trying to defend from him [Hamilton],” said Norris.

“I could figure him out quite quickly, where he was going to be strong and weak and so on, and he was on the hard tyre, so for the majority of it, I could hold him off reasonably easily.

“But the last two or three laps of the stint, the hard tyre started to come back to him quite a bit – or the mediums started to drop away – so he actually got past me. He then boxed and we overcut him straight away.”

After the safety car returned to the pits, Norris quickly had Sergio Perez and Valtteri Bottas giving chase but the Briton was ultimately able to hang on to his runner-up spot, but it was not without difficulties.

“Just the whole race was stressful, I’m not going to lie,” added Norris. “There was not one moment where I thought I could relax and just chill out a little bit.

“But that definitely makes it a bit more special, more worthwhile to kind of have to really work for it, and end up in this position to get past Charles [Leclerc] as well on the restart, and so on.

“Yeah, definitely makes it more worthwhile, so a tough race, maybe made a little bit easier in the middle after the pitstops with what happened.

“But it still wasn’t easy with what happened and it still wasn’t easy from that point on. We still had to work quite hard for it.”

A. F1

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September 15, 2021 at 11:44AM

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