Lando Norris believes McLaren has the potential to challenge Max Verstappen at Formula 1’s Italian Grand Prix but reckons Mercedes is out of reach.
McLaren performed strongly during qualifying at Monza with Norris taking fourth and team-mate Daniel Ricciardo fifth.
They were split by just 0.006s while Norris’ time left him a mere 0.023s behind Verstappen, who will start from third on the grid.
Mercedes pair Valtteri Bottas and Lewis Hamilton will lock out the front row for Sprint after finishing over three-tenths clear of the rest of the pack.
“The less fuel we have the better, at least compared to Mercedes and Red Bull,” said Norris.
“I’m not saying that we will be fighting the Mercedes, but we have a chance to race the Red Bull.
“We are ahead of [Sergio] Perez, and I’m very close to Max, so with lower fuel we have a bit more of a chance.
“But the Red Bull is still the quicker car. More drivable, more race-able when you have the high fuel, the tyre degradation and so on.
“I can be positive and look forward to tomorrow, I’ll still be going for it and trying to get past, but I have to pick my battles wisely.”
Norris added that an error on his final push lap likely cost him a realistic shot at Verstappen’s third.
“I had him in Q1 and Q2, and there were a couple places where I could make improvements, which I did,” he said.
“But on my final lap I made the biggest mistake and messed up the apex of the second chicane, so I lost one tenth. And that would’ve put me P3, so I’m not unhappy, I am still happy.”