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Protected Max Verstappen to Get Worthy Opponent as Lando Norris Dubbed Red Bull-Ready by F1 Driver Turned Pundit

Published 09/26/2023, 4:30 AM EDT

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Though the young gun Oscar Piastri stole the limelight at Suzuka by snagging a front-row spot, it was Lando Norris, in his iconic McLaren, who turned heads during the main event. Norris did have a sniff at Verstappen, but like a cheeky game of tag, Max always seemed a step ahead, cruising his way to another win, while Norris nabbed a stylish P2.

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In a delightful twist to the recent Japanese Grand Prix, ex-F1 driver and current pundit Anthony Davidson tossed a cheeky wish into the proverbial racing well: he’d “love” to see the talented Norris face off against Red Bull‘s resident champ, Max Verstappen.

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“Lando Norris, what can you say about him? I’d love to see him in the other car at Red Bull giving this man [Verstappen] a proper fight because I think he would,” Davidson quipped post-race. Davidson, ever the dreamer, believes that if Norris were in that Red Bull cockpit, the Verstappen-Norris face-off would be the stuff of legends. “A great race by Lando today had such speed, but nobody could touch Max Verstappen. He had the car to do it and he utilized it well,” he gushed.


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Now, let’s get to the juicy part! The F1 grapevine is buzzing with whispers that Norris might be in Red Bull’s crosshairs, possibly for a 2025 stint, especially with Sergio Perez’s contract ending in 2024. If Suzuka was any indication, Perez’s weekend could be described as a roller coaster… if the roller coaster broke midway.

McLaren’s double podium win has jazzed up their quest for P4 in the Constructors’ Championship. Looks like Aston Martin better check their rearview mirror, because McLaren, powered by Norris and Piastri, has cut down the lead to just 49 points.

And as the F1 gossip mills churn, the idea of Norris in a Red Bull uniform in 2025 is heating up, especially with Sergio Perez’s contract concluding the year before. Speaking of Perez, his Suzuka escapade–a roller-coaster, to say the least–may have just intensified these whispers.

Lando Norris’ close call with Sergio Perez: A hiccup in the chase for Max Verstappen at Suzuka!

In a weekend where Max Verstappen proved yet again that speed has no limit, finishing a whopping 19 seconds ahead at the 2023 Japanese GP, Lando Norris added some zest with his spicy remarks. Norris reckons he could’ve been breathing down Verstappen’s neck if not for a cheeky off-camera moment with Red Bull’s Sergio Perez.


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“It would have been a lot closer. I was stuck behind Perez in VSC, and he probably had a problem, so I couldn’t overtake him. I lost 10 seconds and then the Ferraris were on me. To bounce back to second after losing 18 seconds speaks volumes of our team’s mettle.”

During the Virtual Safety Car period, sparked by Perez’s tango with Kevin Magnussen’s Haas, Norris, eager to chase down Verstappen, found himself trapped behind a dawdling Perez. While Norris didn’t quite roll out the “I would’ve won” card, he did playfully hint at the possibility of making Verstappen sweat a tad more.


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Watch This Story | Will Lando Norris Switch Teams From the Miserable McLaren – What are his Options?

So, while Verstappen’s dominance was clear, the Norris-Perez hiccup did provide the weekend’s flavorful twist. The silver lining? McLaren’s sizzling performance. Two of their cars were on the podium, and they’ve got their sights on the Bulls. Bring on the next race!

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Written by:

Pulkit Jai


One take at a time

Pulkit is an F1 writer at EssentiallySports. With a strong academic background in engineering, he possesses an in-depth understanding of the intricate mechanics and technology driving Formula 1 racing. This expertise allows him to offer insightful analysis, exploring the technical aspects of the sport and shedding light on the innovative advancements that shape the world of F1.
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Edited by:

Akash Pandhare