McLaren losing up to a second on the straights due to set-up choice – Norris

2023 Belgian Grand Prix

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Lando Norris says McLaren didn’t get their set-up right for the Belgian Grand Prix due to the limited practice time available in the rain-hit sprint race weekend.

Teams had only one hour of practice on Friday, which was disrupted by rain. Norris believes McLaren have chosen a rear downforce level which is too conservative. As set-up changes are not allowed after first practice, the only way they could change it would be by opting to start the race from the pit lane.

However the team enjoyed a strong result in yesterday’s sprint race. Oscar Piastri qualified and finished second while Norris came in sixth. “The result has been good for Oscar,” said Norris, “overall we probably struggled a little bit more with pace comparing to the leaders compared to where we were.”

The combination of their rear wing levels and the energy management is costing McLaren as much as a second on Spa-Francorchamps’ long straights, Norris believes.

“I think we’re just not in the optimal range of downforce. I think we went a bit too high and that’s costing us probably close to six, seven, eight tenths just on the straights alone. Then you add in clipping and the battery harvest, it can easily be up to almost a second in the straights during a race.

Daniel Ricciardo, AlphaTauri, Spa-Francorchamps, 2023
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“Obviously we’re getting a decent amount back in the corner, so there’s always this little to-and-fro. But maybe just not in the optimal place which is I guess the penalty of just having FP1 [and then] qualifying on Friday, we just weren’t able to set the car in the right window.”

He said the downforce trade-off was “just what we thought was best” in the limited practice time available. “We’re very good in medium and high-speed, no matter what downforce we are on. We’re just losing more than we’re gaining at the end of the day and we’re paying the price for it”.

Norris is concerned their cars will be vulnerable on the straights if their rivals are able to attack them with DRS.

“We’re like 15, 16kph down, no DRS. So for them to have DRS and us no DRS it’s like 25. So it’s going to be a struggle at points, we know it, we just have to deal with it and do the best we can with what we got.”

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2023 Belgian Grand Prix

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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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3 comments on “McLaren losing up to a second on the straights due to set-up choice – Norris”

  1. I don’t understand. They set up the car already in the simulator, no? How can they get it so wrong?

    1. Real life is hard to predict sometimes – especially when it’s Friday and you’re trying to predict air pressure, air temperature, track temperature, rubber levels and tyre performance for Sunday

  2. Judging by how Oscar was chewing up the tyres , trying to fend off the inevitable, more DF maybe the right way to go. We will see.

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