Lando Norris‘s excellent performances, which have earned him four second-place finishes, can be traced back to Austria where the rigorous upgrade program’s first stage took place. Alongside Norris, his team-mate Oscar Piastri also achieved commendable success by acquiring his first podium, coming in third in Japan.
However, Frederic Vasseur suggests that McLaren demonstrated a weaker performance in early season races, despite showing potential for speed in single lap races. This was evident in Spain, where Norris managed a third-place qualifying finish. Vasseur shared, “I’m not sure if we have exactly the same reading of the season. I think that they had a big issue at the beginning, and then they recovered pretty quickly because, even in Barcelona, they were on the second row. I think it was Max [Verstappen], Carlos [Sainz] and then Lando and Lewis [Hamilton] on the second row, they were already competitive.”
Vasseur emphasized McLaren‘s capacity for growth, saying that each step forward boosts drivers to follow suit. He also recognized that these developments greatly rely on the car’s compatibility with different tracks and overall driveability. He added, “And this kind of track is probably suited more with their car than us. But for sure it’s not just a matter of pure potential, it’s a matter of driveability also.”
Addressing the performance of Ferrari, Vasseur confirmed that its recent outing at Suzuka was ample evidence that the addressed tyre management issues were no longer hindering its drivers. Despite finishing fourth, Charles Leclerc was significantly behind the McLarens, while Carlos Sainz swept into a commendable sixth place.
Vasseur commented, “I think it’s a step forward compared to the beginning of the season. But on the other hand, we were probably a bit too conservative. It was under control in the race. And we think we did a good step forward on this one.”
Towards the end of the race, the team decided to delay a second stop for Sainz to give him fresher tyres for the final laps. Vasseur explained, “I think the first stop was really on the edge to keep the two cars in front or to put Lewis in front of the two cars. The second one was a bit more strategic. I think the call came also from Carlos, but we agreed that we have to extend to try to have a tyre advantage in the last couple of laps because if you copy Lewis, you are behind him, and without a big delta you stay behind him.”