‘I’m hoping this is as bad as it gets but it might not be’ – Norris

2022 Bahrain Grand Prix

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Lando Norris admitted he’s “expecting pain” over the coming races after McLaren struggled to 14th and 15th place in the season-opening Bahrain Grand Prix.

The team’s preparations were disrupted by braking problems in the second pre-season test which limited how much running they were able to do. Norris, who followed team mate Daniel Ricciardo home yesterday, said the opportunity to cover a significant number of laps was the only up-side for the pair in Bahrain.

“It was our first race and first time we’ve got to do long running and for myself and also for Daniel, we’re both in quite a new position there,” he said in response to a question from RaceFans.

“Of course I did a bit more like single-lap pace and short running but I personally felt like I learnt a lot with how the tyres behave and how they deg[rade] off and and how you’ve got to treat them. So I think we both learnt a lot and a lot of new experiences for both of us.”

McLaren needs to be satisfied with running its races to the best of its ability while it solves the problems with its MCL36, said Norris.

“Hopefully just figuring out those things and being on top of every area, we can be on top of: strategy, pit stops, we need to try and make sure we’re at the top of our game in the rest of it. I guess that’s got to be our motivation for now – doing the best job we know we can and if we’ve done that, then we have to be happy.

“It’s hard when we just don’t have the car to do so. But our job here and all of the guys’ jobs here is just to optimise everything and to deliver. The rest of it is do you have a good enough car to do so. There’s no point in being sad.”

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However Norris fears there could be worse to come for McLaren over the next races. “I still believe some tracks will be better for us,” he said. “I’m hoping this is as bad as it gets. It might not be, but it could be.”

Max Verstappen, Charles Leclerc, Bahrain International Circuit, 2022
Gallery: 2022 Bahrain Grand Prix in pictures
The team are giving away “a lot of time” to their rivals, he admitted. “We’ve still got a whole season of development and figuring things out, but this is not easy to do.

“I think once we figure out what’s going on and what’s wrong then it’s all about implementing it and bringing upgrades and bringing those parts to the car. So I think figuring out, putting things in the wind tunnel, all of that kind of stuff.

“But it could come a third of the way through the season, halfway through the season, three-quarters. I don’t want to believe it’s not going to be at all this season but I have faith in the team that they will be able to do it. They’ve done it over the last few years, they made big steps forward. So we just need to step back and re-look at everything and go again.”

McLaren’s start to the season was in sharp contrast to Ferrari, who the team fought for third in the championship last year, and opened their account with a one-two.

“You see Ferrari going from where they were to winning and having a one-two so fair play to them and congrats,” said Norris. “But I’m still driving Formula 1 car around Bahrain and there’s a lot worse things going on in the world right now. So I can’t complain about that.”

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Author information

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...
Claire Cottingham
Claire has worked in motorsport for much of her career, covering a broad mix of championships including Formula One, Formula E, the BTCC, British...

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33 comments on “‘I’m hoping this is as bad as it gets but it might not be’ – Norris”

  1. someone or something
    21st March 2022, 12:28

    To think that, less than a month ago, we (mentally) left Barcelona, thinking McLaren might be up there with Ferrari …

  2. I wonder if there is any connection between Lando’s feedback on the car after the second test, where he was the only driver to provide test feedback, and the unusual/sudden drop in performance at Bahrain

    Lando is said to have an unusual approach to the brakes, something that gives him an edge that neither Carlos or Daniel can fully replicate.

    And what sort of problems did they have in Bahrain? Brakes….

    1. It is not as if Lando had much testing to feedback on. They could only do laps on the speed limiter and even then they seemed to only do one or two at a time.

      I do think the final test being just one week before the race is a bit stupid. What on earth are teams supposed to do to fix issues they find before the season starts? Basically the final test is simply to check everything works and press the panic button if it does not…

      I still think that McLaren may well have a good car for some tracks and the problem is that the issues they are having in Bahrain are specific to tracks of its type. The main problem then, is that they only got the data over this weekend as the test was practically useless. There is a race next week so I doubt they will have a solution by then….

      1. Now that I think of it, in terms of mileage, I remember haas and alfa being considered bad in testing, at least initially, what a shock that was, and same for mclaren the other way around.

    2. No, drivers do not have that influence in a car. Or are you saying that Kmag and Zhou made the HAAS?

  3. Mercedes needs to sort their Pu and McLaren need time to bring new brakes.

    1. Yep, but for McLaren specifically, it’s not a good sign that they have brought a car that’s roughly as quick or slow as the other Mercedes customers, but a second a lap behind the works Merc.

      1. This is not true @proesterchen, McLaren is the fastest Mercedes customer by some margin: https://ibb.co/MRvHkF6
        A second down to Mercedes, but more than half a second faster than the others customers.
        This is a screenshot from this video.

        1. I was looking at the race, where the running order was STR – ALB +8s – RIC +6s – NOR +7s – LAT +4.5s – HUL +0.5s in lap 46, with STR in the least awful Mercedes customer car being a cool 2 minutes behind LEC in the lead.

    2. Not even close. In race Mclaren was 2 seconds distant from Mercedes and 3 seconds from Ferrari.

      Car is a disaster and needs B version or a new one.

  4. On the bright side, I think they are marginally better than Aston Martin and Williams. Looked that way.

    Number of points scored by Daniel in his last 6 races = 10
    Number of points scored by Kevin Magnussen in the Bahrain GP 2022 = 10

    1. Not sure about that, in race Norris and Ricciardo who are better pilots, ended behind Stroll(Aston) and (Albon(Williams), maybe the luck draw of Safety car put them there instead of Aston or Williams, but it very close if they are in front.

  5. And McLaren was the first team to solve (minimized) the porpoising issue. They were looking so good after Barcelona testing. Or maybe they just raised the car to stop porpoising. Lots of work for the big British teams McLaren and Aston.

    1. @amg44 Aren’t Aston Canadian?

      1. Nope, they are owned by a Canadian but they are still registered in the UK and compete as a UK team.

  6. I’m sure they’ll bounce back eventually.

  7. IfImnotverymuchmistaken
    21st March 2022, 14:44

    I hope I’m wrong, but this doesn’t look like there is only one thing wrong with the car. If it were just the brakes, I doubt they would fall all the way back the grid.

    1. same thoughts here …
      its a real shame (and huge disappointment for us fans), Zack Brown and co always said that the rise to the top will be gradual (and slow, the closer you get to the top, that’s understandable), but Ferrari showed that it is possible to improve from third the year before, even Haas,with all the problems they had this pre-season managed to humiliate us. I’m hoping there is a simple solution for all this and the car will come good in a couple of races, but I honestly doubt it.

      1. I can’t remember any cases where team were fighting for the final positions in the opening race would take a massive step towards the front of the grid.

        It’s like after they lost Newey they haven’t produced an all mighty car. If this season will go on like this they are heading in to the direction of Williams..

        1. The 2009 Mclaren started off rubbish, and then became a race winning car. That was a bit different though because it was a lot to do with KERS messing up teams development that had it. Then those teams caught up through the year, and KERS became an advantage at times.

          …Yeah, seems pretty worrying. I’m disappointed. Imagine if it had been 5 times fighting for wins. That would have been so so good! We are back to the conventional 2 teams battling though.

        2. Brawn GP
          there’s many, actually, that go from backmarker to high midfield

        3. no, ok, I think I misunderstood what you meant…

  8. I have an opinion
    21st March 2022, 18:20

    Well Ricciardo had a good race – beat his teammate & both Red Bulls!

  9. It just seems bizarre doesn’t it? You imagine all the people and resources they have they could produce a car that was at least in the midfield again. I hope this is a temporary blip but I have a horrible feeling it isn’t. Was so looking forward to Lando especially challenging for wins. That feels so far off at the moment.

    Meanwhile Haas have achieved a meteoric rise in the pecking order. So weird.

    1. I suspect you may be right. Seems incredible that they were being talked up as contenders in Barcelona only to be so far off the pace.

      I’m hoping that it’s just solely the brake problem – they were slowing down way earlier than other cars coming up to corners and losing so much momentum, but I’m worried it’s a much bigger issue. The problem then is whether there’s enough budget to develop their way out of it.

      1. Norris said in race that the car has 100 less points in downforce than Mercedes. Which if true is huge.

    2. Ah, true, the budget cap might have had a positive effect, since alfa and haas are small teams.

  10. Mr Scallywag
    21st March 2022, 22:31

    McLaren is like a box of choc-luts…

  11. At least some “news” about Mclaren, it is telling that pundits and experts are now doing full censorship about their gigantic failure: Putting Mclaren as the 4th team while it ended the last team of Bahrain.
    Besides Mclaren is an hot potato to touch…

    1. I luv chicken
      23rd March 2022, 14:44

      How long before Zak starts wielding his axe? I can’t see any team standing for this lack of performance for more than a month.

  12. Could it due to pull-rod front suspension and push-rod at the rear setup?

  13. Confusing how they’ve haven’t progressed since Barcelona – maybe they flattered to deceive then or maybe they know already that the car was maxed out and others would out develop by next test ? Also can these drivers develop cars and give the feedback needed ( I’m not sure – they’re too matey / jokey / social medi stars ) – by the way I am actually a macca fan and have been for over 30 years

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