Lando Norris backed to beat Max Verstappen in Las Vegas to end McLaren drought

Former racing driver turned F1 pundit Davide Valsecchi has predicted that Lando Norris will get his first Grand Prix victory at the Las Vegas Grand Prix this weekend, ending Max Verstappen and Red Bull’s winning streak in the process.

Norris is still waiting for his first race win in F1 and his impatience to take to the top step of the podium has only increased throughout 2023. Despite starting the season with the slowest car on the grid, McLaren are now Red Bull’s closest challengers for race victories and are well-positioned to take that fight into 2024.

Of his seven podium finishes this season, six of them have come on the second step with Norris pushing Verstappen all the way last time out in Brazil. Despite this, it is his team-mate who has McLaren’s only win this season with rookie Oscar Piastri coming out on top in the Japanese GP sprint race.

Discussing potential Las Vegas GP winners for Autosprint, Valsecchi predicted: “In Las Vegas, whoever warms up the tires first goes strong. I hope that Red Bull starts a little slowly like in Singapore, but warming up the tires is one of Max’s best qualities.

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“For the other teams, it’s a lottery, but it could be a good opportunity for someone else to win. I feel that Lando’s first victory will come here or in Abu Dhabi.”

Looking ahead to Norris and McLaren’s chances next season, he added: “Max is in spectacular form and in addition, he is supported by a car that seems perfect for him. I think he will clearly be the favourite again next year. But who could realistically beat a Verstappen like the one we are seeing this year? I see Norris very well.

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“If I had to bet on someone I would do it on him. McLaren has developed a single-seater that works well, and in the last 6-7 GPs Lando has almost always had a very good pace. My feeling is that if anyone will destroy Max’s dominance it will be Norris with McLaren.”

Despite Mercedes and Ferrari occupying second and third place in the Constructors’ Championship, it is McLaren who are ending the 2023 season with the momentum on their side. Their performance means that Norris has a shot at finishing fourth in the standings if he outscores Fernando Alonso by three points or more in the remaining two races.

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