McLaren's Norris 'pleasantly surprised' by Chinese GP podium

Lando Norris of McLaren took his 15th career podium in China. Lars Baron/Getty Images

Lando Norris said his second place finish at the Chinese Grand Prix exceeded the team's expectations and added he was pleasantly surprised by their pace over Ferrari.

The McLaren driver prevented a fourth one-two finish for the Red Bull team in the first five races of the season, as Max Verstappen took his first Chinese Grand Prix victory, with teammate Sergio Perez finishing third.

"Whenever I finish behind Max, I feel like it's a win," Norris said on Sunday. "A great day, really a surprise, I was not expecting a day like today. So I'm very happy for myself and for the whole team, more importantly.

"[It] definitely exceeded our expectations but a lot of things went our way," he added.

Norris started fourth and made an early maneuver on Fernando Alonso for third place, as Verstappen stormed ahead by over 20 seconds. But the mid-race safety cars meant Verstappen's lead was broken as the cars bunched up. Following the restart Norris moved up to second ahead of Perez, as Verstappen eventually finished 14 seconds clear.

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On Saturday, the 24-year-old Briton started on pole for the sprint race, but lost the lead to Hamilton after running wide on the first lap. He eventually finished sixth as Verstappen won.

After qualifying on Saturday afternoon, a downbeat Norris doubted McLaren's chances of beating Ferrari on Sunday, saying the Italian team were out of their league, and "the Red Bulls will probably lap everyone multiple times!"

But on Sunday, he was pleasantly surprised by the result.

"I'm surprised by many things, the lack of pace on the Ferrari, our good pace," he said. "Us comparing to the Red Bull was surprising. I wasn't expecting today at all, I got everything to be out early and not be on the podium, its a pleasant surprise but shows the team have done a good job, we're working hard and it's paying off.

"I made a bet to how far behind the Ferrari we will finish today. I thought 35 seconds, I was very wrong with that but I'm happy to be wrong. It's been good day for everyone."

Norris claimed his 15th podium place, but has not yet won a grand prix.

On the subject he said: "I feel like it but that's Formula One. Max is doing a good job and Red Bull are doing an amazing job, so I can't fault them and I can't be too annoyed at that.

"But I feel like I'm getting a lot out of the car, especially on Sundays so I have to be happy with the job I'm doing. And one day, I think it's coming [a race win]. I think this year, I'm not over confident in saying it, I think we can get a win this year but it's going to be difficult and we have a lot of work to do."