Lando Norris has admitted he grew up as a “loner” but wants to “make up for lost time” after vowing to take the world championship fight to Max Verstappen.

The 24-year-old has emerged as the driver most likely to stop Verstappen waltzing towards a fourth consecutive title after he followed up his first win in Miami with a close second in Imola on Sunday.

Verstappen’s fifth victory from the seven races so far came after he helped his online racing team win a 24-hour sim event.

Norris was once a prominent fixture in the virtual world but the Bristolian arrived in Miami earlier this month with a cut on his nose following a boozy boat party in Amsterdam.

The wound – caused when he inadvertently drunk from a broken bottle – was still evident a fortnight on in Imola.

“When I was younger, my life was literally racing, sim racing and then school,” said Norris.

“I didn’t do anything else. I never went out when I was a kid. I was a bit of a loner. Now I am just kind of making up for lost time.

“I am doing other things and enjoying that more than the sim stuff. I have grown up and my life has taken me away from that. Maybe Max has done the opposite?

Lando Norris and Max Verstappen
Lando Norris celebrates finishing second to Max Verstappen (right) (David Davies/PA)

“I still love it. I still enjoy it. I still play online but it is not something I think of doing on a Saturday night!”

Norris will head to this weekend’s race in Monaco – where he now lives – as Verstappen’s chief rival following his impressive run of form.

Norris might be 60 points adrift of Verstappen but his speed in his revamped McLaren has provided a glimmer of hope that the Red Bull driver’s unprecedented supremacy could be threatened.

Norris added: “Hopefully it continues like this because it is exciting.

“I had a second in China, too, so I have finished second, first, second and that is a good sign. We are extracting everything we can out of the car and we are on the right track.

“Many people didn’t expect us to be able to improve so much and to catch up with Red Bull.

“We are not at their level just yet but there will be tracks where we can be stronger. I am excited that we can definitely continue to fight them in more races.”