Lando Norris, McLaren, Bahrain International Circuit, 2024

“Happy” Norris expects McLaren to shine at coming tracks

Formula 1

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Despite finishing outside the top five in Bahrain, Lando Norris believes McLaren will be more competitive at many of the coming circuits on the calendar.

After finishing sixth in yesterday’s season-opener, Norris said the Bahrain International Circuit has rarely suited McLaren’s cars. He expects to perform better at other tracks with more high-speed turns.

“In the conditions when the track was less grippy and a bit hotter last week [in testing], we generally were [thinking] Mercedes are ahead, Ferrari easily ahead,” he told the official F1 channel. “And I think Ferrari and Red Bull are down the road.

“But we surprised ourselves. We even had a chat after free practice two [saying] we’re looking a little bit better than we were thinking. So this was a good sign. I think if we can do that on the track we know is not our best, that’s a good sign of things ahead.

“Today we struggled again a little bit more with the balance, with the higher fuel, with the degradation. Things fell away from us, especially comparing to the Ferraris. But to fight a Mercedes was pretty cool so I’m happy with that.”

Although McLaren were by far the most improved team year-on-year in Bahrain in terms of single-lap performance, the team was in poor shape this time 12 months ago. Norris said their performance through the quicker corners bodes well for tracks like Jeddah, where they will race next week.

“If you look at last year it’s hard to know because we’re going back to a track where we didn’t have the upgrade last year, and the upgrade basically changed our lives.

“I’m more positive for this kind of circuit, especially when you look at turn six-seven here, turn 11, there were corners we were a bit better at relative to the rest. And you look at the last corner, turn one, turn 10. We’re just shocking. So, there’s less of them next week – maybe you’ve got the first chicane and the last corner – but I’m hoping there are more corners which suit us next week.”

He said he was “happy with sixth” having been frustrated at the error which cost him a higher starting position. “[Russell] wasn’t on an ideal strategy and we were closer to it. He boxed very early to probably protect from the undercut, so he was probably struggling a bit more, he was struggling more than I was at the end, but just not enough.

“I think our pace was too evenly matched between Mercedes and ourselves. Clearly, Ferrari and Red Bull are a different level from us today, but probably as we expected. So it was nice to battle with Mercedes because I think we can battle with them here we can definitely have the upper hand on them elsewhere.”

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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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4 comments on ““Happy” Norris expects McLaren to shine at coming tracks”

  1. More optimistic than me, I’ll give him that. I’d be more worried if I were him cause he couldn’t beat Leclerc with brake issues all race and Russell with an overheating engine.

    And with Ferrari and Mercedes still figuring out their entirely new concepts I predict a lot of lonely races as 4th fastest car for Mclaren this year unless another miracle upgrade comes along.

    1. Stephen Taylor
      3rd March 2024, 12:39

      McLaren will be fine . They were able to upgrade well last year. No reason why it shouldn’t happen this year. People need to remmber this car still started development in the old Toyota windtunnel before the new one at MTC was finished.

      1. They were able to upgrade well last year. No reason why it shouldn’t happen this year.

        Last year they started the season with a car that was essentially already deprecated when they did the winter tests, with the new heavily revised one scheduled to debut later. So they did an “upgrade” that was more of a late introduction of the real new car.

        This year they have a decent enough car, but it’s still not good enough. I haven’t seen anything to suggest that they’ll do anything other than refine this over the course of the season. Last year was quite unusual.

        1. Stephen Taylor
          3rd March 2024, 16:38

          The reason it arrived late was because the team underwent a major techinical restructuture including firing the useless James Key and externally hiring and promoting others from within better equiqqed to do the required. Yiou may have ignored the part of the previous comment saying McLaren were still using the Toyota windtunnl in the first half of last year. This very fact would have compromised this years car as this years car would have started devlopment early last year. This MCL38 is a bit a bit a frankenstein car developed in two different wind tunnels . The 2025 car should not have these problems being developed solely in the new MTC windtunnel.

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