Lando Norris believes a second overtaking attempt on Max Verstappen in the Sao Paulo Grand Prix “wasn’t worth the risk” of compromising his overall race.

Starting seventh, Norris made a blistering start to slice by the Aston Martins and Lewis Hamilton to seize second before the race was red-flagged for a crash before Turn 1.

Having fended off Hamilton on the second restart, Norris remained within touching distance of Verstappen and utilised DRS on Lap 7 to apply pressure on the Red Bull.

After Verstappen had defended the inside line into the first corner, Norris sized up another potential opportunity into Turn 4 which was also rebuffed by the Dutchman.

From then on, Verstappen stretched his legs to escape DRS range by the end of that same lap, eventually taking the chequered flag a comfortable 8.2s ahead of Norris’ McLaren.

Norris reckons he was capable of mounting another attack on Verstappen, but the prospect of being vulnerable to Fernando Alonso’s Aston Martin deterred him.

“The opportunity to race against Max was only going to be for a few laps,” he said. “We weren’t going to find, all of a sudden, the pace we needed to compete against him for a whole race.

“And Fernando was behind me. We know that their race pace, especially when the majority of the time when it’s high deg and certain things that they can have very good race pace. So yesterday he didn’t have clean air, today he was going to be in an opportunity, in a position to potentially just achieve a lot more and I didn’t want to compromise my own race by having one more attempt.

“At the same time, I was low on battery and those types of things. And if you overheat the tyres too much too early you can pay the price quite heavily. I tried. It wasn’t worth a second attempt as much as I would have loved to and I think potentially could have done.  Just it wasn’t worth the risk and potential consequences of then being in the hands of Fernando and the people behind. 

“So yeah, it was good fun. I thought if there was a little bit more space, or if I was literally a couple metres further down, things could have been a little bit different. But at the same time, to then try to keep Max behind for the rest of the race would have been a whole new challenge.”

Max Verstappen (NLD) Red Bull Racing RB19. 05.11.2023. Formula 1 World Championship, Rd 21, Brazilian Grand Prix, Sao Paulo, Brazil, Race Day.

Amid McLaren’s continued weakness in slower-speed corners, Norris reveals that McLaren’s primary deficit to Red Bull at Interlagos came in Turns 10 and 12.

However, the Briton explains that the advantage of new tyres mitigated the loss, enabling Norris to be close enough to size up the Red Bull in the opening exchanges.

But despite maximising the resources available to him, Norris contends that Verstappen was out of reach due to the grip his rival could extract through the Senna S.

“Was it on? I mean, I tried. I just wasn’t… we struggled too much in Turn 10, Turn 12,” he disclosed. “It’s where the Red Bull’s extremely competitive and where we struggle, have struggled all weekend.

“Apart from when we’re on new tyres, and of course on that restart, I used my new tyres and Max didn’t. So, I thought if I was going to have one opportunity, it was going to be there and then. So I used all of my battery, and of course, had DRS and then you do start catching them very quickly. I had a good line in Turn 1, Turn 2, but Max also had a lot of grip.

“So, you know, if it was maybe later on in the stint, his line in Turn 1, Turn 2 would have been a lot more compromised and a bigger penalty, but because the tyres were still fresh and provide a lot of grip, he got a good enough exit that I then only got alongside him, just before the braking zone for Turn 4.

“So, I mean, I tried, I would have tried to get past him if I could, and I wanted to, but just a couple more metres would have been lovely.”

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