'I was praying for one more lap' says McLaren's Norris at Imola

IMOLA, Italy -- Lando Norris was praying for an additional lap at the end of the Emilia-Romagna Grand Prix after he closed to 0.725 seconds of eventual race winner Max Verstappen at the chequered flag.

Norris took chunks of time out of Verstappen's lead over the final 20 laps of the race, reducing the Red Bull's advantage from over six seconds to under one second.

On the final lap, the McLaren driver was within a second of Verstappen, which would have given him use of his DRS overtaking aid into the first corner had the race run to 64 laps instead of 63.

"I was just praying for one more lap," Norris said. "I was just praying for someone to say one more lap. I don't know why.

"I mean, I just did everything I could. I was pushing like hell to get there and catch up and have a chance. But as soon as you get within two seconds, you start to lose downforce and grip. The tyres start to overheat again.

"I kind of struggled for a couple laps, but once I understood how I had to drive again, like the last lap I managed to get there, and seven tenths, like one more lap, at least he would have had to defend into Turn One, and maybe something could have come from that, but one lap too late.

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"It's a shame, but it is what it is, and we just struggled too much in the beginning of the race."

Norris' second place finish at Imola followed on from his victory two weeks ago at the Miami Grand Prix, where McLaren brought a major upgrade to his car.

He still believes Red Bull has a faster car overall, but is confident McLaren can challenge Verstappen more often at upcoming races.

"I would hope so," he said. "There's no reason after a couple tracks you would want to deny it. We also had a second in China, so we've had second, first, second, you know, and I think that's good signs.

"I don't think we're at their [Red Bull's] level just yet. As we saw today, they still have areas where they're better and maybe some areas where we are better now, which is a good sign. But yeah, I think there's going to be tracks where we can be stronger.

"I'm still looking forward to a couple of those tracks, but there's going to be somewhere a little bit off still. So we're working on those places and if we work and improve on them as much as we have the rest of the car, then I'm excited that we can definitely continue to fight them in more races."