McLaren Formula 1 drivers Lando Norris and Oscar Piastri are expecting the next two rounds in Mexico and Brazil to be “tricky” for the team against its closest rivals.

Despite Norris predicting that McLaren would struggle last time out at the Circuit of the Americas, the Briton led 27 laps of the race and wound up third on the road, which became second when Lewis Hamilton was disqualified for a technical infringement.

The result extended Norris’ run of consecutive F1 podium finishes to four and elevated McLaren above Aston Martin into fourth in the Constructors’ Championship.

However, Norris, who encountered trouble with tyre degradation in the closing stages, insists McLaren’s race was flattered by gaining track position over its competitors.

Asked if he was surprised by the range of circuits on the calendar McLaren’s MCL60 continues to be competitive at, Norris said: “Yes, in a way, I think in terms of pace, yeah.

But in qualifying, you didn’t expect to be as high up, which just set us up very well for all the races and the race pace was good. Maybe not so much on Sunday, you know you look at the race pace I had quite poor race pace compared to quite a few different cars.

“The Ferrari was pretty alright to be honest. The Aston’s were pretty quick, quicker than me, so, you know I think it was just a good weekend which made things look even better.

“Yeah, I think we just made the most of every situation we’re in, you know, pretty good laps in qualifying and things like that, which makes everything was a bit better. But yeah, still to be as competitive as we were in a circuit we didn’t quite expect to be was a good thing.”

Lando Norris (GBR) McLaren MCL60 and Lewis Hamilton (GBR) Mercedes AMG F1 W14 battle for position. 22.10.2023. Formula 1 World Championship, Rd 19, United States Grand Prix, Austin, Texas, USA, Race Day.

Last weekend, Norris conceded that McLaren’s best chance at achieving a victory this year had likely evaded the team at the high-speed Japan and Qatar circuits.

Despite the remarkable progress made over the course of this season, Norris mentioned that McLaren squandered a lot of lap time at the slow-speed Turn 11 hairpin at COTA.

The 23-year-old therefore suspects that the stop-start nature of the Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez track configuration this weekend will hamper McLaren’s prospects.

“I think the main thing is there’s no strengths of our car here this weekend, maybe a little straight-line braking, but there’s no medium/high speed which is where we are very competitive, it’s where we get a lot of lap time back in races for example it’s where we we’ve always had to push high speeds, which is not something you necessarily want to do,” he explained.

“But to make up for a lack of slow speed performance, we have to push in high speed which causes more tyre temperature, more degradation. It’s just kind of two things that go wrong for us very quickly, which is cool and stuff. You get away with it, but when it is as hot as it was in Texas, that’s what led to a slightly worse performance on Sunday.

“But just in general, I think one or two very tough weekends, coming up both here and Brazil, very few medium [or] high-speed corners, a lot of very slow speed, second gear, third gear, which is just where we’re very weak. I think what’s going to make it, let’s say maybe a bit trickier is just our contrast of the last few weekends have been so good.

“So I think we’re just gonna see maybe a little contrast and we’re going to see like Aston, for example, I think that’s going to be very competitive and Mercedes, I think it will be very competitive here just because it’s a lot of stop-start, second gear, third gear, second gear corners where you just lose a lot of lap time through minimum speed.

“It’s nice when we’ve had surprises when we’ve actually done a bit better,” he continued. “But I think we know the ones which we definitely want to struggle with and we’ve kind of always struggled with a little bit which is here and Brazil. The final two races are just question marks at the moment.”

McLaren team-mate Piastri, who retired after unfortunate first-lap contact in Austin, agrees that Mexico will likely provide a sterner test for the Woking-based squad.

Asked if he thinks the track will suit McLaren’s current package, the Australian rookie replied: “Not particularly. Not like some other circuits have.

“In saying that, I think Austin was maybe better than our expectations in terms of performance. But yeah, we’ll have to wait and see. It’s a very different circuit here.

“It’s my first time here. So there’ll be a lot of learning for myself to do. But yeah, hopefully we can still be in the fight with the teams we’re around.”

Source:  Read More 

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *