Formula One: Leclerc and Norris chase Verstappen

Motorsport Tuesday May 28, 2024 By: Harry Howes

The Formula One season is well underway now and while Max Verstappen is still sitting pretty at the top of the standings, he’s under more pressure than he’s been used to in recent years.

The reigning champion has won five of the opening eight races but he’s in unfamiliar territory of late, having failed to win two of the last three. Since our last update, we’ve had three races, with action taking place in Miami, Emilia Romagna and Monaco.

The top five remains the same but the order has shifted a bit, with wins for Charles Leclcerc and Lando Norris edging them up the standings.

F1 standings after eight races

PositionDriverTeamWinsPodiumsPoints
1Max VerstappenRed Bull56169
2Charles LeclercFerrari14138
3Lando NorrisMcLaren12113
4Carlos Sainz JrFerrari13108
5Sergio PerezRed Bull02107

Norris finally claims first Grand Prix victory

As the grid revved their engines on the Miami Grand Prix start line just over three weeks ago, it was unlikely that McLaren driver Norris could foresee the elation that would come his way a few hours later.

Having come close so many times before and bearing the unfortunate record for the most podium finishes without a win, he finally broke his hoodoo. Norris’ 16th podium finish saw him come top of the pile, winning in Miami and finishing 7.6 seconds clear of the imperious Verstappen.

It was his first Formula 1 victory in 110 attempts and a combination of skill and good timing helped him on his way. As McLaren chose to delay pitting Norris, the safety car was called in for a crash on lap 29. This allowed Norris to make a stop while the rest of the field were travelling at a reduced speed.

Taking advantage of the timely safety car, Norris returned to the track to extend his lead, fighting off the challenge of Verstappen to claim victory. It was only McLaren’s second win in the last 12 years, the last being Daniel Ricciardo at Monza in 2021.

Leclerc continued his strong start to the campaign to claim third, while the rest of the top five was familiar, with Perez and Sainz Jr recording respectable finishes.

Verstappen bounces back in Italy

The next stop on the F1 tour was Emilia Romagna, with the Grand Prix returning after being cancelled last year due to flooding from heavy rain. Having missed out in Miami two weeks before, Verstappen got back to winning ways – but only just.

The Red Bull superstar finished less than a second clear of second-placed Norris, who is enjoying a strong run of form. Verstappen is targeting a fourth consecutive F1 championship and he claimed his fifth win from the opening seven races of the season.

A late charge from Norris almost saw the Brit claim a remarkable second successive win but Verstappen held on. Meanwhile, Leclerc claimed third place again to climb to second in the standings with his third podium finish of 2024.

Leclerc takes advantage of rare Verstappen shocker

Formula One returned to Monaco over the weekend and there was barely a dry eye among the watching spectators as Leclerc raced home to win in his hometown. The Ferrari driver grew up in Monaco and dreamt of competing along the roads he walked on.

And in his first ever win on the iconic course, he continued his strong season by claiming his maiden victory of the campaign. Leclerc came second in the championship back in 2022 and he’s looking to win the title for the first time this time around.

The 26-year-old secured Ferrari’s second win of the season, finishing seven seconds clear of Australian driver Oscar Piastri. Sainz Jr made up the podium once again, while Norris and Russell completed the top five.

In a rare off day for Verstappen, he only managed to finish sixth, just ahead of Lewis Hamilton. His lead at the top of the standings is now 31 points and while there’s still a long way to go, this year is looking like it may well finish a lot closer than his dominance last time out.

What’s next?

As we edge towards the midway point of the season, the British Grand Prix is just around the corner. The famous race returns to Silverstone on Sunday 7th July and you can enjoy the action from the best seats in the house with Engage’s exclusive hospitality packages.

Before that, there are a few more races to look forward to first. Next up is Canada on Sunday 9th June, before we head back to Europe for races in Spain and Austria. Verstappen will be desperate to get back into form in the coming races but if recent results are anything to go by, it won’t be a surprise if Leclerc and Norris can pick up a few more wins in the near future.

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