Pilot Lando Norris of McLaren has made impressive strides recently with a series of enhancements to his MCL60 vehicle. In both British and Hungarian circuits, Norris finished in second place, giving a tough chase to Red Bull.
Norris recognised that McLaren has reached a performance level which allows them to strive for the top three spots, rather than relying on outliers to create opportunities. “I think the majority of the time we’ve had an opportunity to be somewhere or achieve something we’ve been able to do it,” he commented.
It’s a new reality that the team is adjusting to, postulated Norris. It’s a departure from days of baseless hopes to now fighting for podium spots. “It’s more like halfway through the race we’re like, ‘Oh my God, we’re going to get on the podium here,’ rather than starting P2 and aiming for a podium,” he added.
Moving onto the upcoming Dutch Grand Prix, Norris predicts a comeback for McLaren following a tough Belgian GP. Even though team-mate Oscar Piastri clinched the second spot in the rain-impacted race, Norris wasn’t able to get higher than seventh position.
Despite McLaren falling behind competitors like Ferrari, Mercedes and Aston Martin, Norris believes they still had a decent showing at Spa. “We just didn’t have a race car, we had more of a qualifying car. But even the race car was not bad when we were in clean air,” he explained.
However, he conceded that the vehicle was not suitable for racing since he was overtaken consistently due to the slow pace. Norris is optimistic about the next circuit, saying it aligns better with Budapest’s race conditions, hence, McLaren should be able to maintain their momentum.
Norris emphasised the tightly contested race behind Red Bull wherein even minute detail matters. Given how close the competition is, he admitted his Spa performance fell short. “I damaged the car in the first quali, and just made one mistake on my second lap. And that made me look a lot worse than what it was,” he confessed.
He further pointed out that though everyone gets competitive in qualifying, the real matter is the race itself. “That’s where Red Bull are just in a different league,” Norris concluded.