Lando Norris seeks to be a party-wrecker this weekend when he takes on series leader and three-time Formula One world champion Max Verstappen at his Red Bull team’s home Austrian Grand Prix. After a series of impressive results including two consecutive second place finishes behind the Dutchman, the McLaren driver wants to trim his 69-point deficit in the title race. The 24-year-old Englishman believes he has the car and the confidence to put together a winning sequence himself. 

“We’re on a roll and we’re doing well,” said Norris, adding he was frustrated by his own errors.

“I need to tidy up a few little bits and pieces and we’ll be on top. I am confident. 

“Every weekend we go into now, the car is performing extremely well and we’re always there, or thereabouts, within a couple of tenths.”

He blamed himself for not winning from pole in last Sunday’s Spanish Grand Prix after beating Verstappen in qualifying. 

Since winning the Miami Grand Prix in May, Norris has moved up a gear to become his friend’s main rival for the title.

He has finished within four seconds or less of Verstappen at Imola, Montreal and Barcelona as he extended his run to 10 seconds in the last 23 races. 

However, he and McLaren know Verstappen will be strong and motivated by massed ranks of his ‘orange army’ on a track where he dominated last year as he stamped his supremacy on the season.

‘Big strides’

This year has been different, however, and a close scrap is in prospect in the 11th round of the championship where a third sprint race this year may also spring a surprise. 

Red Bull’s team boss Christian Horner warned his team are no longer having it their own way and said he expects a difficult weekend. 

“On such a short lap, it’s going to be tight and we expect McLaren, and Lando, to be fast again along with Ferrari and Mercedes.

“Who knows? 

“The one who’s really stepped up is Lando and we’re having to fight really hard for wins at the moment and be on top of our game as a team. But, you know, that’s F1 as it should be!”

After their recent resurgence, Mercedes will hope to stay in contention with seven-time champion Lewis Hamilton buoyed by his first podium this year and team-mate George Russell feeling the Silver Arrows have rediscovered their form and mojo. 

“We’re all feeling excited for the remainder of the season,” said Russell.

“We’ve got more wind tunnel time than all of our rivals and we know what we need to do to make these big strides now.

“We don’t want to get ahead of ourselves, but I’m 100 per cent confident we’ll win races this year now.”

Whatever the outcome this weekend, as he seeks a fifth win, Verstappen will extend his record for leading the championship to 50 races.

It is a welcome certainty in the light of last year’s chaos when the result was revised five hours after the event following a spate of penalties for drivers’ exceeding track limits. 

That is unlikely this year as the Red Bull-owned circuit has installed 2.5-metre gravel traps at the exits of Turns Nine and Ten. 

Last year, a total of more than 1,200 possible infringements were investigated resulting in 83 being identified and eight drivers penalised.

(This story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

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