Lando Norris, McLaren, Singapore, 2023

Norris to run McLaren’s only set of upgrades in Singapore

Formula 1

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Lando Norris will run McLaren’s only set of upgrades on its car at this weekend’s Singapore Grand Prix.

His team mate Oscar Piastri is expected to run it for the first time at next week’s Japanese Grand Prix.

Part of the upgrade debuted in practice for the Dutch Grand Prix but was not used in the race, said Norris. “The rear wing we had in Zandvoort, but we ended up not using it there and saving for here,” he explained. “And then there’s some small things that you’ll probably quite easily see on the rest of the car.”

The upgrade is expected to deliver the biggest improvement in their car’s performance since the Austrian Grand Prix, where Norris was also the first of their drivers to run a major aerodynamic development.

“Probably, since Austria, it’s the thing that we believe will help us move forward the most since then,” said Norris. “Which has been good, but obviously we’ve not run it on track yet so we don’t want to say too much until we’ve actually got it to work properly.

“But it’s a good step, the team have worked hard to get at least one of the cars here and then Oscar will have the rest in Japan too. So an exciting couple of weekends for us.”

The team is especially eager to see how its latest upgrade performs following the scale of the step forward they made earlier this year in Austria.

“It was definitely more than we had over the last few years,” said Norris, who has driven for the team since 2019. “Sometimes you put stuff on and it’s not really delivered to what we wanted or what it should have done. So definitely after Austria and how much we progressed since then, it gives you more hope that we can just put it on the car and it works.”

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The aerodynamic upgrade is intended to improve the MCL60’s performance in slow-speed corners, which has been a particular weakness of the car.

“It’s also a bit more slower-speed biased, which is a bit different to what we had in Austria,” Norris confirmed. “So I think that’s why we’re probably a little bit more cautious on saying how big a step or how much it’s going to help because it’s been a bit easier for us to add load in the medium-to-high-speed corners and less so in the very slow-speed. But this is our first time we’ve been able to really target that a bit more. So we’ll see tomorrow.”

The Austrian Grand Prix turned McLaren’s season around following a difficult start to the year and an off-season restructuring in its technical department. Norris said its latest package for the car will show whether it has been able to successfully address a long-standing weakness.

“[Since] the restructure and everything, the first opportunity to show something was Austria,” said Norris. “That was just kind of just putting load on the car. Now it’s a bit more trying to target a few more specific areas, which is the first time we’ve probably done that a little bit more.

“So I’m interested. I think it’s not going to help in exactly the places where, from a driving style point of view, I would probably want it.

“But it should just help with a bit of overall load, the cornering speeds and just kind of consistency, tyre wear, traction, things like that. Maybe not so much specifically with allowing me to kind of drive the car a bit more in a way that I want, I would say. So it is just performance it’s not something to make me feel better in the car. But we’ll find out the rest of it tomorrow.”

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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...
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6 comments on “Norris to run McLaren’s only set of upgrades in Singapore”

  1. It’s a bit like 2004 all over again for McLaren . Start the season with a shocking car the by mid season or just after the car is threatening the front of the grid. What a shame McLaren didn’t have this much upgraded car at the beginning of the year. Who knows where they could be now with these drivers if the drivers had this excited about the car they had in Bahrain. Despite great recovery compared the start of the season I think this year has to go down as missed oppoortunity as had the car car at the beginning of the season that they will ilikely end it with there might have been the opportunity to do something special and make Max’s title defence not so comfortable.

    1. Now if only Norris can sneak in a win like Kimi at Spa.

  2. Apparently, McLaren themselves aren’t all that sure about the amount of progress it brings them, and they want to compare cars.
    I can only hope it does bring them what they want.

  3. It would have been interesting to see Piastri with the upgrades at Austria and at Silverstone, on equal footing with Lando. Norris seems to get the better strategy in recent races even when Piastri is not much if at all behind in race pace, even if Piastri manages to get ahead of Norris on track by qualifying ahead of by racecraft.

    I hope Oscar can improve his race pace and be comfortably clear of Lando as I think his ceiling is much higher and maybe close to Max.

    1. Make sense that Norris gets the upgrade first – he has much more experience and his McLaren’s reference, for the time being. On the other hand, I find a bit surprising they seen to be giving the cutover systematically to Lando when Piastri is ahead… They might want to revise this approach now that Piastri is very close to Norris, or other iteration of Monza’s contact will happen…

      1. they should all be on the same parts. otherwise their setups will be too divergent. I suspect there are some people at McLaren getting the shaft on pay, and they are doing the max to work around their budgets, with the promise of a better tomorrow. ZB I suspect is playing games.

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