Lando Norris aimed a thinly-veiled dig at Sergio Perez as the struggling Red Bull star fights for his future after the McLaren star made an appearane at the Ryder Cup. McLaren star Norris, who has been strongly linked with taking Perez’s seat in the near future, made a cheeky joke about at the Mexican after attending golf’s biggest event of the year at Marco Simone Country Club on Friday.
Norris is a keen golfer in his spare time and is regularly seen on the green with fellow F1 driver Carlos Sainz, his former McLaren team-mate now racing for Ferrari. The Briton made his way to the Ryder Cup event in Italy in support of Team Europe and inevitably was asked about his F1 exploits with McLaren.
The 24-year-old has finished on the podium four times this season, finishing second on three occasions, after a mid-season upgrade boosted the Woking-based team’s chances of finishing fourth in the Constructors’ Championship.
And when asked about McLaren’s impressive recent pace, Norris made a bold declaration that they could keep up with Mercedes, Ferrari and perhaps even 2023 Constructors’ champions Red Bull. But he made it abundantly clear that there was only one driver from the Austrian team he could catch – and it’s not Max Verstappen.
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“I think we’re at a point where it’s clear that we’ve made some big, solid steps forward,” he told Sky Sports Golf. “I don’t think there’s any going back for us – I don’t think there are going to be any bad races like we had at the beginning of the season.”
He added: “I think we’ve proven, now, that we’re a team that can fight against Ferrari, Mercedes and, at times, Red Bull – at least one of the cars! That’s where we are.”
While he did not name Perez as such, Norris’s cheeky quip at the 33-year-old’s expense may not go down well with the Red Bull star, who has attracted heavy criticism after winning just twice this season in the mega-quick RB19.
Red Bull boss Christian Horner confirmed the team have been keeping a close eye on Norris as they weigh up future team-mates for Verstappen beyond Perez’s current deal.
The six-time race winner’s deal is due to expire at the end of the next season, and Horner has refused to rule out moving for Norris as his deal with McLaren runs out in 2025.
Asked about the potential of signing Norris for Red Bull, Horner told Sky Sports: “Lando’s a great driver. He’s a big talent, big personality and of course, he’s one of those drivers that you keep an eye on.
“But there’s many drivers that you keep an eye on as well. There’s a generation of drivers out there at the moment that have got a huge amount of talent. Now, being Max’s team-mate is never going to be easy and some drivers may be up for that challenge, some may not be.”