Lando Norris has revealed his frustration at losing ground to Max Verstappen in the race for the Formula 1 drivers' title after failing to convert pole into victory at the Spanish Grand Prix.

The Briton also claimed that McLaren was "the quickest car" on track at the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya having tracked Red Bull's Verstappen to a gap of 2.2 seconds by the end of the 66-lap race.

Norris had taken pole with a blistering lap on Saturday to pip the three-time champion, but after getting away slower than Verstappen, he was forced to close the space to the inside.

That allowed Mercedes' George Russell to pounce, aided by a double dose of slipstream, and take the lead around the outside into the first corner.

While Verstappen headed Norris out of the opening turns and made light work of Russell at the start of lap three, Norris would spend the first stint behind the Mercedes and only get by when making the most of fresher tyres having pitted at the end of an extended soft tyre run.

Addressing the critical opening to the race, Norris told Sky Sports F1: "It really wasn't like it was a bad start. It was like two meters, Max just got there and I couldn't cover him. And that was it. Also from George's side, George has such a good slipstream.

"The cars are getting almost more and more draggy in some ways because you're having more and more downforce but in an efficient way. George has slipstreamed past both of us. Even if you took me out of it, George still would have got ahead of Max.

Lando Norris at Spanish GP 2024

Lando Norris, McLaren F1 Team, 2nd position, arrives on the podium

"That's the crazy part of it all. I did what I could. It wasn't the best start. I don't think it was a bad start."

Norris' consistent podium form has seen him take over second in the drivers' standings, his highest career footing, yet his response to the feat underlined the annoyance that he allowed Verstappen to eke his gap out.

"I don't care what position it is. It's the gap to first, which I care about and that was bigger today. So I'm frustrated, you know, because I didn't just lose a race to someone. I just lost it to Max and he's the leader of the championship."

Despite Verstappen's victory, Norris' pace across the previous two months has made clear the step in performance made by McLaren, asked if the car was now the fastest on the grid, he replied: "Today, yes. Yesterday, no. Yesterday, 100%, the Red Bull was quicker. I don't care what people say.

"Today, we were the quickest car. Fact. So the team deserved it.

"I think we were the quickest on track. From start to finish, we were the quickest. With the overtaking, with the following, with the dirty air, that cost me the win today. So I just didn't do a good enough job. Simple as that."

The gap between Verstappen and Norris after the first leg of the opening triple-header of the year stands at 69 points and asked if the driver's title was achievable this year, the Miami Grand Prix winner explained: "If it's like this every weekend, you know I need something more.

"I need Max to not finish second, or be as good as he's doing at the minute, but he's doing a good job, so I can't fault him. We do, I think we have what we need. I have what I need, the team have what they need.

"I think as a team, we have the good car. We still need to improve on some things and I'm confident we can but yeah. Today we had the opportunity to win.

"Whether or not we had the best package or we didn't or whatever the questions are, we should have won the race and we didn't and those are opportunities we can't miss out on."