Lando Norris, McLaren, Circuit de Catalunya, 2020

McLaren should innovate, not copy other cars – Norris

2020 F1 season

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Lando Norris says McLaren “shouldn’t have to rely on copying other people” as the team appears to face a growing threat from ‘B-team’ rivals.

[f1tv2020testa]On Wednesday his team mate Carlos Sainz Jnr warned the team would find it hard to compete with so-called ‘B-teams’, “smaller teams getting a lot of help from the bigger teams”. He was speaking after Racing Point revealed its new car for the 2020 season which which rivals have referred to as a ‘pink Mercedes’.

The RP20 has lapped up to half a second quicker than the MCL35 in testing so far. “They seem quick, that’s for sure,” said Norris, “but I can’t say anything because I don’t know what’s gone on in the background.”

“I don’t know behind the scenes, I don’t know what goes on, I don’t know how much they’ve taken or learned or just whether they’ve just decided to copy them,” he added. “I’ve got no clue so I can’t really comment on it.”

He believes McLaren’s priority should be to forge their own development path. “From our side, I guess it’s trying to focus on ourselves,” he said.

Sergio Perez, Racing Point, Circuit de Catalunya, 2020
Copying last year’s fastest car makes sense to Grosjean
“Every team learns and probably copies bits from other teams, designs and concepts and everything, and then makes their own version because they think that’s better. So they’ve done what they’ve done, if it works then good for them.

“But I think we’re McLaren, we shouldn’t have to rely on copying other people. We should be able to invent things ourselves, come up with our own leading ideas and I think that’s what McLaren are capable of. So it’s for us to focus on ourselves and not just copy other people because I don’t think that’s the way we should do it.”

However Romain Grosjean of Haas – which obtains parts from Ferrari including its power unit, transmission and suspension components – said it made sense for Racing Point to base their car on last year’s Ferrari.

“Why wouldn’t you do it?” he asked. “It was the fastest car last year. And it’s such a big advantage that you can gamble on the fact that the midfield won’t get to that level. If you copy the car using the same power unit, you need the same heat rejection. Why not?

“Is it right or wrong? I don’t know. But I don’t think it’s a bad idea.”

But individual innovations such as Mercedes’ Dual Axis Steering are not as easy for midfield teams to copy, Grosjean believes.

“I think Mercedes has been very innovative and very impressive,” he said. “There is no chance that a midfield team will do it. Again it shows the difference between those teams and the other ones.

“I don’t know: Has it got a place in Formula 1? You can judge, I can have my opinions. But it’s it’s very impressive. I don’t even know how they can design such a part. I mean, I would probably be scared that the steering wheel comes [off] in my hands at one point.”

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Dieter Rencken
Dieter Rencken has held full FIA Formula 1 media accreditation since 2000, during which period he has reported from over 300 grands prix, plus...
Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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8 comments on “McLaren should innovate, not copy other cars – Norris”

  1. Just a quick correction:

    However Romain Grosjean of Haas…said it made sense for Racing Point to base their car on last year’s Ferrari.

    Merc :)

    1. Alternatively, change Racing Point to Haas :)

  2. Reasonable talk. It’s beyond me how so many people can defend obvious plagiarism based on strong political ties.

  3. It makes sense for teams with ambitions. Copying a topteam will never make you world champion because the team you are copying will always be one step ahead of you. But then again, only teams with a factory engine ‘can’ become champion so in that sense it’s very unfortunate that McLaren dropped Honda for a customer engine.

    So buying an engine or a chassis of a third party will make you hit the ground running for the smaller teams but will never get you the championship.

    1. @matthijs indeed, though the idea of finishing 4th or 5th with a fraction of the budget of the big three can be a very profitable operation.

      1. @spoutnik Certainly! I can imagine teams copying other teams or buying engines to climb up the grid. It’s just that this tactic will deliver you points but not world titles. But can you still call McLaren a ‘big team aiming for the title’? Williams was a long time, but certainly not anymore.

    2. @matthijs ”buying an engine or a chassis of a third party”
      – Only the former as the latter is and has been outlawed for more than a decade now. Alpha Tauri, under its previous name, used to go with the senior Red Bull team’s preceding-season car in its early years, but things have changed since.

      1. @jerejj You are right, I meant the Haas, Racing Point and AT-route: collaborate as much with the big team as possible.

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