July 23, 2024

Max Verstappen was pushed hard by McLaren, but Oscar Piastri and Lando Norris came up short of stopping the Red Bull driver by less than a tenth of a second.

Max Verstappen was forewarned by Lando Norris that he intends to punish the Dutchman for any errors he makes in his pursuit of consecutive Formula 1 victories.

Just two weeks ago in Miami, the British driver took home his first Formula One victory, but he already has a taste for it. In today’s race at Imola, he qualified third, while Verstappen overcame some appalling performances in practice to win pole.

However, Verstappen was covered in less than tenth of a second, followed by teammate Norris in the other McLaren and Oscar Piastri in second. Even though it will be challenging to pass on the narrow Imola track, the latter is confident he can overtake the Dutchman in the lead.

When asked by Mirror Sport if McLaren’s impressive long run pace in practice encourages them to challenge Verstappen, Norris replied, “The car has been performing well and the team has been doing a good job the whole weekend.” However, I don’t think tomorrow will be an easy day for us.

“Our first task is to overtake here, which is pretty much impossible. However, I believe we can have hope if we can exert pressure, keep them guessing the entire race, and produce a performance akin to Miami. You constantly attempt to capitalize on other people’s errors and hardships. Max hasn’t had the easiest weekend, in my opinion, but anyone who doubted Red Bull’s ability to qualify well is a little foolish.

“It’s disappointing to lose in qualifying once more, but as a team, we seem content and close.” All of us have given performances, and if we can maintain the strong race pace that we demonstrated in Miami, I believe we can all look forward to a good race.

Verstappen struggled to control his unusually temperamental Red Bull during practice on Friday, going off course multiple times. Yesterday morning, he performed exceptionally well, giving rivals hope that they would eventually be able to break his qualifying streak.

However, Verstappen claimed his seventh pole in as many Grands Prix this year and acknowledged that defeating the McLarens required everything. He said: “This weekend has been really tough, so I honestly went into qualifying thinking, ‘If I can get a top five, I’ll be happy.'”

“I felt much more at ease and it felt a little better right away [during qualifying]. At last, I could go after corners a little more. Everything came together. It was all out in the last lap, trying to give it everything. I had a brief moment there, as you may have noticed in the last corner. I was just making a sincere effort to express myself.”

Lewis Hamilton, two positions behind teammate George Russell, had to make do with eighth place on the grid. The Mercedes driver also acknowledged, saying, “I believe George’s [lap] was the fastest the car could go today.”

Similar to Norris, Hamilton is concerned about the difficulty of moving up on what Fernando Alonso called the second most difficult track to pass on, after Monaco. He went on, “It will be beneficial if I can get past Tsunoda [starting seventh].” But George’s rivals’ cars are moving more quickly.”

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