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Formula 1 Brazilian GP

McLaren: Norris unlikely to beat Verstappen with better start in Brazil F1 sprint

McLaren thinks even a better start would not have allowed Lando Norris to stay ahead of Max Verstappen and win Formula 1's Brazilian Grand Prix sprint race.

Lando Norris, McLaren MCL60 battles with Max Verstappen, Red Bull Racing RB19 at the start of the race

After taking pole in Saturday's shootout Norris had a worse drive off the grid than fellow front-row starter Verstappen, who drew along the inside of Turn 1.

Norris moved to the middle of the track but ultimately left the door ajar for Verstappen to swoop past and take the lead.

Verstappen then comfortably controlled a 24-lap race dictated by tyre wear on Pirelli's softs, as Norris initially stayed within striking range, only for the Dutchman to ultimately win at a canter with a four-second margin.

McLaren team principal Andrea Stella feels that even keeping the lead on the opening lap would not have been enough to fend off Verstappen.

PLUS: Why Norris must fight Verstappen harder if he’s going to break his F1 win duck

The Red Bull driver appeared to be managing his pace early on in the sprint when Norris kept within two seconds, which may have given McLaren false hope of being able to fight him until Verstappen was given the go-ahead to up his pace by his team.

"My impression is that had Lando stayed ahead of Max on lap 1, it would have been difficult to stay ahead in the second part," Stella acknowledged.

"I think until mid-sprint, the pace was good. Actually, we achieved the minimum gap around the halfway in the sprint race, which was at the time was almost like, 'Wow, we may even attack'.

Lando Norris, McLaren, 2nd position, in Parc Ferme after the Sprint race

Photo by: Zak Mauger / Motorsport Images

Lando Norris, McLaren, 2nd position, in Parc Ferme after the Sprint race

"But then Verstappen could maintain his pace, in some cases even improve his pace, while for us the tyres are starting to go away. So, I think if the situation was inverted from a positional point of view, we would have become very exposed to being overtaken."

Stella also says Norris' poorer start than Verstappen still needs to be analysed, but feels his driver did the right thing by not pushing the Dutchman more aggressively towards the pitwall.

"In terms of the drive off the grid, actually this was discussed in the briefing," Stella explained.

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"I think Lando and our control system engineer will have to look together at the data and see where the opportunities are. They might have to do with the final part of the clutch pedal phase, they might have to do with going through the gears.

"We'll take a look at that and make sure that we get the most learning for [the grand prix].

"In terms of corner one, I think it was a perfect manoeuvre by both of them, Max had the inside line so there wasn't much I think that Lando could do. And sometimes you have to make sure you stay in the race, which is what Lando did."

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