Norris ready to challenge Verstappen, but friendship 'will change'

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Lando Norris believes going toe-to-toe with Max Verstappen more regularly in the future will eventually impact the friendship shared by the two drivers.

Norris conquered his maiden F1 win in Miami last weekend, and it was victory achieved on merit, with a sizeable gap over Verstappen that signaled a new threat to the Red Bull driver’s dominance.

McLaren’s car development since last season has been impressive and whispers of a potential title challenge in 2025 are starting to gain traction.

Norris himself contends that his team is “100%” capable of seizing the world title next season although the 24-year-old insists he’s keeping “my feet on the ground – absolutely”.

“I want to believe we’ve got two great drivers, as Zak [Brown, McLaren Racing boss] normally says. I’ve got an amazing team behind me, we have an amazing team behind us and we’re closer than ever.

“As I said at the beginning of this year, we can win races. I want to believe and I should have the confidence to say next year we can go for more, we can go for the next step.

“But, we have a lot more work to do and we’re working hard to try to achieve it.”

McLaren and Norris’ win in Miami clearly puts Red Bull and Verstappen on notice.

While Norris and Verstappen have shared a friendly rivalry up to now, often seen celebrating together outside of racing, the stakes are getting higher, and the camaraderie might not last.

“I’m sure it will [change],”the McLaren charger told Sky F1. Like, I don’t want to say it in a bad way. We have respect for one another, we get along.

“We’re not best friends. We don’t text each other every day, that kind of thing. But we just have a lot of respect, from him to me and me back to him.

“So I look forward to it. I want to challenge him, I want to race against him, I want to battle because I think he’s one of the best drivers ever in Formula 1, so if I can prove myself against him/

“I’m proving myself against one of the best, and that’s exactly what I want to do.”

Norris’ milestone triumph will likely strengthen the Briton’s confidence while the win has also taken a significant weight off his shoulders according to McLaren team principal Andrea Stella.

"I think [not winning] was a bit of a weight on his shoulders, but it was a weight on our shoulders as well ," Stella explained.

"We knew as soon as we made winning material available to Lando, he would have delivered. So we felt the responsibility and I have said that many times, that it is up to us, it is not up to Lando.

"But credit to Lando, he kept developing over the winter, especially looking at improving in qualifying and delivering laps that sometimes don't have to be 100% when you have a fast car, just be there. I think he is doing that."

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