Norris: F1 doesn’t have a ‘front field’ and a ‘midfield’ anymore

2021 Bahrain Grand Prix

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Lando Norris predicts the gap between the midfield teams and front-runners has closed up ahead of the 2021 F1 season.

Dominant champions Mercedes were beaten in just four out of 17 races last year. One of those defeats came at the hands of customer team Racing Point, now known as Aston Martin.

McLaren has switched to Mercedes power for the new season, and Norris hopes this will allow the team to challenge for podiums more often.

“I’m hoping this year it’s not going to be as much of a midfield, we’re not ‘midfield’, any more,” he said.

Norris started the 2020 season with his first podium finish in the Austrian Grand Prix. Later in the year he finished fourth in Italy, where his team mate Carlos Sainz Jnr claimed another podium finish with second.

“I think towards the end of last season we closed up the gap a little bit. It was still Mercedes winning and Red Bull close behind but there was races where they struggled a little bit more.

“Hopefully this year we can take opportunities more to be ahead of one or two of them at least, and be there when it counts, have more races like Austria or Monza, and there can be a surprise winner and hopefully in the end of the day that can be us.

“We’re hoping to be that little bit closer. But I don’t think it’s a front field and a midfield anymore, it’s just two teams which are very quick, we’re chasing, trying to catch up and then it’s basically everyone else. We’ll see on Sunday what the result is.”

McLaren finished third behind Mercedes and Red Bull in the championship standings last year, thanks partly to Racing Point having 15 points confiscated for copying Mercedes’ rear brake duct design. Norris expects the rebranded team to be a major rival again this year.

“The main people we thought would be third last year were Racing Point,” he said.

“They should have been third, in a way, but we did a better job throughout the year. But they had a much quicker car through the majority of the year. Some races we had a better car, but the majority they did. I think we just did very well as a team to then end up third.

“I feel like this year we’re coming in fighting them a bit more. They didn’t have as much of an advantage as what they did [in testing]. So I feel like we’re fighting for third a little bit more.

“But if there’s an opportunity to fight for second or first in races, then then we’ll fight for it, that’s for sure. I think we have a little bit or work to do to catch the front.”

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Author information

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...
Ida Wood
Often found in junior single-seater paddocks around Europe doing journalism and television commentary, or dabbling in teaching photography back in the UK. Currently based...

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9 comments on “Norris: F1 doesn’t have a ‘front field’ and a ‘midfield’ anymore”

  1. My prediction for Aston Martin is that they will disappoint. People are saying design-wise it’s a true Aston now. Not a green Merc. Like that’s a good thing? The reason they nicked the Merc design in the first place was because they couldn’t design their way to the front of the grid. People are also talking about a rejuvenated Sebastian Vettel. That might be true, but it also might be true that he is actually on the downward slope and his Ferrari troubles weren’t all car and situation-related.

    So Aston could have an Aston designed (i.e. slower than the copy…) car being driven by a not-peak Vettel and a quick but increasingly erratic Stroll. Net result being that while they won’t stink the place out and their peaks might be high on any given weekend, they will have enough combined weaknesses through the season to easily let McLaren into 3rd and potentially Ferrari with their improved power unit and possibly Alpine and maybe even AlphaTauri as well if the super-aggressive Honda design hits the ground running (which it seems to have).

    McLaren are what Aston want to be. An ultra-professional racing thoroughbred team who know what they’re doing and are good at it. Oh and they also happen to have a cracking driver line-up too.

    1. This is the opposite of what Force India was, that team was designing cars at the top of the midfield on a tiny budget for years. It was only until they had zero budget and were close to bankruptcy that they started, what I’d consider, underperforming.

      Now with the investments, the new staff, the upcoming new factory, I don’t see why they couldn’t find themselves designing some great cars.

      Will such things happen overnight in a year where only limited development is allowed? Probably not, but that doesn’t seem necessary.

      1. “Will such things happen overnight in a year where only limited development is allowed? Probably not, but that doesn’t seem necessary” – But the above is only my prediction for what will happen this year. It’s not a prediction for future years.

    2. totally agree with this

  2. Hey Brian, that’s a bit harsh. As a fan of the team sine the Jordan days, I hope they do well this year, though being a Perez fan also, I’d like to see him give Max a hard time too.

    1. I think my final 2 lines were probably unnecessary and harsh. But the rest is a prediction based on what they’ve done in the recent past and what happened last year. If things pan out the way they very easily could re- Seb & the design, then they could have a difficult year.

  3. They’re replaced by “Radio Ranting Field” and “Driver Insulting Field”.

  4. I still think Mercedes and Red Bull will be in front of the midfield behind those teams with atleast .5 seconds. So Lando is wrong here or he is talking of This race only.

  5. We won’t see who’s on what field until the lights go out…

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