Alpine are ‘extremely quick but made a lot of mistakes’ – Norris

2023 Austrian Grand Prix

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Lando Norris isn’t convinced McLaren can set their sights on beating Alpine even with the major upgrade the team is starting to roll out this weekend.

The two teams have been regular rivals in the championship standings over the last five years. Alpine currently lead McLaren by 44 points to 17 in the fight for fourth place.

However Norris believes their rivals should have scored far more points with the results they’ve had so far. “Alpine have been an extremely quick car this year,” he said. “They’ve just made a lot of mistakes and they’ve had a lot of problems at times.”

McLaren’s best result is the sixth place Norris scored in Australia, aided by Pierre Gasly crashing into his Alpine team mate Esteban Ocon. The latter scored Alpine’s best finish when he reached the podium in Monaco.

Norris believes their rivals have a significant pace advantage over them at most tracks. “They’re fighting Astons, they’re fighting Ferraris through many of the races. It’s just, they crashed in Australia…

“They’ve been extremely good and competitive this season. I think we’re a little bit surprised that we could keep up with them in Montreal. I would say that was one of the weaker weekends of the season. But apart from that, they’ve done a very good job. I would say no one’s complimented what they have been able to do this year.”

McLaren are introducing the first part of a major upgrade for the MCL60 on Norris’ car this weekend. He said their potential to challenge Alpine over the rest of the season will depend on the gains they see from that change.

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“I doubt we’ll be able to maybe match [them]. It depends how they are this weekend. But I doubt it, they’ve been doing a very good job.

“They have one of the best cars, definitely the best of the midfield, by quite a long way. They’re quite a big step ahead, so hopefully we can get close to them, and if they’re not as quick as they normally are, then maybe we can have a race with them too.”

The MCL60 has been particularly weak on the straights, where Norris hopes to see improvements this weekend. “What has made our life tough is the lack of straight-line speed,” he said. “I think we’ve been pretty much the slowest in straights almost the whole year.

“This is trying to help a bit of that. It’s probably not going to make the biggest difference but it’s the little things sometimes which add up and can start to make a difference.”

However the package of upgrades should bring improvements to the car’s performance across different tyres of corners as well, he said.

“It should be slow speed, medium speed, high speed. So hopefully I can just be either ahead of cars I should be ahead of or I can maybe follow cars closer and things like that. Or maybe there’s better compromises to make and we can have better race pace and things like that. It’s difficult to know just yet, you kind of have to try it.”

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As the Austrian Grand Prix is a sprint race weekend, McLaren will only have a single practice session to get the most out of the new parts.

“It’s not the easiest of weekends to put everything on and understand and maximise. I doubt we’ll maximise everything by tomorrow just in FP1 and understand everything.

“I’m sure there will be a lot of learnings ready for Silverstone, or things that we learned say through qualifying and the sprint race, that we’re like ‘we kind of wish we did this’ but it’s about just doing the best job we can.”

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2023 Austrian Grand Prix

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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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