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McLaren's Norris gives nod to Ferrari as favorites at Canadian GP

Kym Illman / Getty Images Sport / Getty

MONTREAL (AP) — Lando Norris is putting the pressure on Ferrari.

The McLaren Formula 1 driver said the Canadian Grand Prix could be anyone’s race Sunday, but he’s giving the edge to the Italian team after Charles Leclerc’s victory two weeks ago in Monaco.

“I think they’re favorites,” Norris said Thursday. “It’s impossible for me to say if it’s going to be us, Ferrari or Red Bull on top. That’s why it’s exciting, because none of us really know.”

Led by three-time defending season champion Max Verstappen, Red Bull won 21 of 22 races last year. Verstappen had a record 19 victories.

Red Bull tops the constructors’ championship this season, but Leclerc’s victory helped Ferrari move within 24 points.

Norris thinks Ferrari could have the upper hand again this weekend, partially because curb-riding is such a factor at recently resurfaced Circuit Gilles Villeneuve. Leclerc downplayed the favorite talk.

“Everybody doesn’t want to be going into a weekend hearing that they are favorites,” Leclerc said. “You’re never going to hear me (say) we are 100% the favorite this weekend and the same for them, so you’ve got to throw the ball to your closest opponents.

“It might not be the true picture once we hit the track, the reality is we are so closely matched between those three teams.”

Verstappen has a 31-point lead over Leclerc in the drivers’ championship. Norris trails Leclerc by 25 points, equal to one race win.

But three drivers from three teams — Norris, Leclerc and Verstappen — have won the last three races for the first time since 2021.

Last season, Verstappen won his second consecutive Canadian Grand Prix amid a run of a record 10 straight victories.

“I’m not focused on what the others are doing because that’s just a waste of time and energy,” the 26-year-old Dutchman said. "We know that from our side, there are things that we can do better and that’s what we’ll focus on.”

While Ferrari appears to thrive on courses where curb-riding is a big factor, the opposite has been true for Red Bull. Verstappen called Monaco, where he finished sixth and Red Bull teammate Sergio Perez did not finish, a reminder of that.

“This is something that we know, and we haven’t been able to fix it yet. I do think that after Monaco, it gave us another wake-up call,” Verstappen said. “With everyone catching up, naturally, you can’t rely on your advantage anymore even though your curb-riding is bad.”


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