Lando Norris at the 2024 Formula 1 Spanish Grand Prix
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By Robert Hansford profile image Robert Hansford
4 min read

The Austrian Grand Prix can be the springboard for Norris to bring his F1 title challenge to life

The Austrian Grand Prix has been kind to Lando Norris of late and it could be a turning point for his F1 championship bid

The 2024 Formula 1 Spanish Grand Prix result felt like a disaster for Lando Norris after finishing second to Max Verstappen. But this weekend’s race in Austria has the potential to provide some redemption.

Go back 12 months and finishing runner-up to Verstappen would have felt like a victory for Norris, but it shows just how far he and McLaren have come in such a short space of time.

Right now, the McLaren is arguably the fastest car over a full race distance, and that’s what left Norris feeling frustrated, having dropped back a few positions after a poor start in Spain.

This weekend the F1 circus heads to Austria, and there’s every chance that it could be another strong weekend for McLaren as it looks to mount a late title challenge on the Red Bull of Verstappen.

And this is why it could be the perfect location for Norris to ignite a proper assault for the championship.

McLaren has strong form in Austria of late

The fast flowing nature of the Austrian Grand Prix’s Red Bull Ring circuit has suited the McLaren for several years now.

It’s a track where Norris got his maiden F1 podium, having finished third in the race in 2020, and he repeated that feat again in 2021. 

Norris failed to make it on to the rostrum last season, but even then, he was still fourth, finishing behind both Red Bulls which were clearly dominant at the time, and a strong Charles Leclerc in the Ferrari.

The design philosophy of the McLaren means that it excels in high speed corners, something that the Red Bull Ring has plenty of, but as last weekend’s Spanish Grand Prix showed, it’s also getting on top of its speed in low to midrange speed turns as well.

And so, this year it comes to Austria with a far more developed package than prior seasons.

As such, with Norris’ form at the circuit, there’s every reason to believe that he should be vying for victory once again.

Norris clearly has the edge over his other rivals

At the Spanish Grand Prix, Mercedes proved that it is improving its level of competitiveness, having qualified and raced in the top three all weekend long. But when it came to race pace, it was still lacking considerably in comparison to Norris and Verstappen.

Russell might have got the jump on Norris at the start, but Norris was the faster of the two. Had Norris not got stuck behind Russell in that opening stint, Norris would have mounted a much closer assault on Verstappen for victory, something that was proved when Norris got ahead after the first round of pitstops.

Norris glad Miami GP win has proven doubters wrong
The McLaren driver took his first race win at the 2024 Miami Grand Prix

And it’s not just Mercedes that still has pace to find at the front. While Mercedes is going forward, Ferrari is going backwards, having seemingly lost pace since the Canadian Grand Prix.

That doesn’t mean these two teams can’t recover ground on Norris and Verstappen, but if the duo maintain the pace advantage this weekend, it’s likely going to end in a two-way shootout.

The Red Bull is no longer error prone either

One thing that has been a common theme over the last few years is Red Bull’s dominance and its ability to avoid errors. But since the Miami Grand Prix earlier this year, things have begun to change.

As the other teams have caught up, Red Bull has come under increasing pressure and some cracks have started to show.

It’s meant that Red Bull has at times struggled to find the ultimate pace in its car, leaving it vulnerable to attack from its rivals, namely Norris.

This weekend’s grand prix is a home race for Red Bull and so the team will be pulling out all of the stops to ensure it gets another win at the track. But it won’t be as straightforward as in previous years.

And with the British Grand Prix just a week later, and that too featuring plenty of high speed corners that should suit the McLaren, Red Bull is going to come under plenty of sustained pressure for some time.

That’s where Norris can get the upperhand though. With some of the upcoming races favouring the McLaren’s style, Norris has an opportunity to hit Verstappen where it hurts and start to put real pressure on him in the title.

If he can start things off with a win in Austria, it will give him the momentum to do real damage later in the season. But he has to take his chance now. 

If Verstappen can get another win under his belt, then any hopes of a real title challenge will look slim. And that will be a disappointment not only for Norris and McLaren, but also for the neutral F1 fans across the globe.

By Robert Hansford profile image Robert Hansford
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