Lando Norris says McLaren are on a par with Renault and Racing Point on race pace, but gain a greater boost from new tyres in qualifying than their rivals.McLaren’s qualifying pace has improved during 2019 but Norris was unable to keep Renault’s Daniel Ricciardo behind him in the last race.
“We’re good in qualifying which is a good bonus for us because it sets us up well for the race every time,” said Norris. “I’m always in a good position, you can have clean air every now and then. We’re able to not show as easily our weaknesses, it kind of hides [it] because we have clean air and the others are stuck behind us.
“But when it’s vice-versa then we struggle a lot more and we realise that we’re not as quick as they are when they’re following us.
“We have a good qualifying car and we still have very good points about the car. But there’s also weaknesses which show more in the race.
“When it comes to the race, our race pace compared to Racing Point and Renault I think is much more equal than everyone thinks. We don’t have an advantage, I don’t even think we were quicker in America. I think just because we qualify well everyone thinks we should have a good kind of race. It’s not like that.”
Norris says the car’s shortcomings are masked over a single flying lap on fresh rubber, and the team needs to address the “complete package” to improve it.
“When we’re in qualifying we kind of just about get away with how the car is performing,” he said. “It’s on the edge. We’re having to do a good job still, Carlos and myself, to extract the most out of the car. With the problems we have, the new tyres mask it a bit and they just give us the things that we need on the qualifying lap.
“So we appear or we’re able to do better than what we know we will be able to do in the race. Because when we get there, and we know we’re going to be having the problems which we have in qualifying when the tyres are going off a little bit, then it’s kind of expected.
“So it’s more the fact we need to improve still our qualifying car as a complete package. Not just adjusting the set-up a little bit, but as a complete package we need to improve the qualifying car still, which will make the race car better.”
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