Lando Norris laughed off Helmut Marko’s suggestion that the McLaren driver was asked by his team to impede the qualifying efforts of Max Verstappen in Q3 at Portimão.
In the Saturday afternoon shootout, Norris was informed by the McLaren pitwall that Verstappen was fast-approaching and was told “not to do him any favours”, implying that he should refrain from giving the Red Bull charger a tow down the main straight.
But Marko construed the message as a ploy requested by Mercedes to prevent Verstappen from challenging the Brackley squad’s drivers for pole.
“Very sporting of the Mercedes team”, a sarcastic Marko commented during the live TV broadcast.
McLaren team boss Andreas Seidl later dismissed the inference and explained that the message was indeed intended to warn Norris not to give the Dutchman a tow.
Read also: Norris enjoyed ‘fun but stressful’ run to P5 at Portimão
Norris was at a loss to understand exactly what Marko was talking about.
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“I saw these comments, I found them pretty funny,” said the Briton last weekend in Portugal.
“For some reason, he blamed it on Mercedes. So I got no clue what he’s talking about. Why would Mercedes have anything to do with it?
“I think he was obviously a bit annoyed that a Mercedes qualified ahead of them. Any team boss isn’t going be happy with that.”
“I mean, Max didn’t lose the time in sector one or sector two, he messed it all up in sector three. So everyone went slower on the second stint and that’s because the conditions got worse.
“So maybe they’ve just been blindsided, not looking at that. But yeah, I did nothing wrong.”
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