Lando Norris deliver verdict on rival Sergio Perez amid Japanese GP showdown

Lando Norris achieved a strong result for McLaren by qualifying third for the Japanese Grand Prix on Sunday, with only Max Verstappen and Sergio Perez of Red Bull ahead of him.

In the Japanese Grand Prix on Sunday, Lando Norris is skeptical about his chances of overtaking Sergio Perez now that the Red Bull driver has “got his act together.”

A string of lackluster performances last year put Perez’s seat under strain for months. Specifically, he had one of the worst performances of the entire campaign at the 2023 Suzuka race.

To quell rumors that he will be replaced at the end of this season, he has, however, had a strong start to the new one. Additionally, he is in a good position to maintain his impressive point-scoring form after his qualifying performance on Saturday in Japan.

Only teammate Max Verstappen was quicker than Perez, who was just a few hundredths of a second away from taking the lead from the Dutchman. With two Red Bulls and Norris in third place, he was the best of the rest.

The McLaren driver is aiming for back-to-back podiums after placing third in Melbourne two weeks ago. However, he acknowledges that it will be challenging to overtake even one Red Bull, so his goal in Sunday’s race will be to keep those in his rear at bay.

“It’s so tricky, Sergio is doing a good job,” Norris remarked. That makes one car much more difficult to follow. However, we demonstrated last year that we could stay in contact and not fall behind even though we were farther away from them. Thus, that will be our goal.

“Really speaking, though, I believe that we are still too far away to confront them because they are moving too quickly. Yes, we qualify more quickly. Still, they typically pull away a little bit more in the race. In addition to competing with the guys in back, I’ll try my hardest to move forward.

“Compared to this time last year, [Perez] has performed significantly better this weekend. It appears that he has his act together, as he claims. Therefore, [we] might be less certain that he’s the only Red Bull we can find.”

Though Red Bull adviser Helmut Marko believes the Mexican is back on top of his game because he fears losing his seat, Perez joked over the radio that he was motivated to get a front row seat by a bet with Christian Horner. The fact that the contracts for next year are up for grabs a lot earlier than normal this year might have some bearing. That appears to be a really motivating factor as well,” the 80-year-old noted.

“Normally, in April, we don’t discuss driver decisions at all. However, the entire matter appears to have advanced significantly. For us, though, it’s still too early. Without a doubt, we’ll give it some time before deciding.”

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