Lando Norris, after his strong showing at Silverstone that saw him begin in the front-row and ultimately claim a second-place finish, expected a tougher performance at the Hungaroring circuit. He expressed his concerns post-British Grand Prix, stating that the slow curve performance of the McLaren still needed work and was somewhat “poor”.
Interestingly, McLaren found success during the qualifiers in Hungary, managing to secure both second row spots. Norris was a mere 0.085s off of the pole position, and Oscar Piastri secured fourth place. Despite the surprise of their impressive qualifying, Norris believed that the Hungaroring’s characteristics suited their car better due to its medium-speed nature, prevailing over its known downforce-intensive reputation.
The driver acknowledged that McLaren might struggle in certain corners throughout the rest of the season, specifically mentioning La Source as potentially problematic. “I think the thing is that everyone says Budapest is a slow-speed circuit. But really I’d say it’s a lot closer to medium speed. You never even use second gear around the whole circuit,” Norris shared.
Further detailing the areas of difficulty, Norris explained, “The slower speed is where we struggle. so where we’re the worst is in the chicane, Turn 1, and Turn 12. That’s where we lose a lot of our time, but definitely close, to be only eight hundredths off pole position.” Despite the thrill of their competitive stance, Norris anticipates challenges in upcoming circuits, particularly expressing his fear for Turn 1 of Spa.
Even so, Norris was extremely pleased with the team’s current position and progression. With sentiments of surprise and pride, he expressed, “I’m happy, the team are doing a great job. I’m very proud of the progress we’ve made. I guess I’m surprised to be in P3, but a good surprise, especially with Oscar in P4.”
Andrea Stella, McLaren team principal, agreed with Norris’ assessment, categorizing the Hungaroring as being dominated by medium-speed corners. He admits McLaren trails in slow-speed areas, but maintains competitiveness in medium and high-speed sections. “Here in Hungary, even though we say it’s low-speed stuff, there’s also a lot of medium speed and it’s actually a track dominated by medium speed,” explained Stella, making reference to qualifying speeds reached in Turns 4 and 11.
He admitted that the team’s upgrade resulted in improved performance in medium-speed zones but rebuffed any attempts to adjust the car balance for added downforce. “We haven’t really achieved that. We just increased the grip by the same quantity on the front and rear axle throughout the corner so we go quicker. But balance is similar,” Stella added. The increased grip has not altered how the grip is delivered to the driver, despite the team acknowledging that additional front and rear ends would be ideal to achieve better control in corners and braking.