Lando Norris jokes Senna, Prost-style clash his only chance of beating Max Verstappen

SUZUKA, Japan -- Lando Norris says his only chance of victory at the Japanese Grand Prix would be if Max Verstappen and Oscar Piastri, who start ahead of him on the grid in first and second, have an Ayrton Senna and Alain Prost-style collision.

Norris qualified third at Suzuka, just 0.035s off McLaren teammate Piastri in second, but was also 0.616s off Verstappen's Red Bull -- a huge margin in F1 qualifying.

Verstappen has won 12 of this year's 15 races and his long-run pace from Friday practice suggests he will have a significant advantage over the rest of the field on Sunday.

Asked if there was any way for McLaren to work together to win on Sunday, Norris made a joke referencing the 1990 Japanese Grand Prix.

"We're going to try [to beat Verstappen] but if he's leading by Turn 2, there is not a lot we can do," Norris said. "I don't know... Oscar, if you want to emulate Senna on Prost into Turn 1, you can do that! It would be lovely for me!"

The infamous 1990 race at Suzuka decided that year's championship when Senna, who felt aggrieved that his pole position had been placed on the dirty side of the grid, made a slower start than Prost and drove into the Ferrari driver at Turn 1, taking them both out the race.

Norris added: "I think our race pace is decent, it's definitely not going to be as good as the Red Bull, but we'll do our best."

At the British Grand Prix this year, Norris managed to beat Verstappen into the first corner and take the lead for the opening five laps of the race, while Piastri put the Red Bull driver under pressure for second place on the opening lap.

Piastri said he and his teammate could try something similar at Suzuka, but believes the race will be tough due to the strong likelihood of two-stop strategies on Sunday.

"We tried our best at Silverstone, we'll try and do the same thing," Piastri saud. "But obviously it's going to be difficult.

"I think it'll be a difficult race, very different to Silverstone in that regard, it could be a lot more open I think.

"I think yesterday and the whole weekend the [tyre] degradation has been a lot higher than say Silverstone, the tyre choices from everybody, clearly would say most people are expecting more than one pit stop.

"It's going to be a different race to Silverstone from that aspect and I think when you've got more degradation, more pit stops, it just increases the margin for error, it tests how well you can manage the tyres as well, so it's not just as simple as going as fast or flat out as the car will let you."