Lando Norris is optimistic that McLaren’s upgrades over the next two race weekends will provide its biggest step in performance since the Austrian Grand Prix.
McLaren began the year braced for a tough start amid an admission it had missed development targets with its MCL60 car.
However, the introduction of a heavily revised car from Austria onwards has transformed the Woking squad’s fortunes, with Norris scoring successive second places at the British and Hungarian Grands Prix.
Norris has revealed that McLaren will be bringing further new parts to its 2023 package across the next two race weekends, prompting him to believe the side can take another seismic step forward.
“Probably since Austria, it is the thing that we believe will kind of help us move forward the most since then,” he said ahead of the Singapore Grand Prix.
“Obviously, we’ve not run it on the track yet and so we don’t want to say too much until we’ve actually got it to work properly but it’s a good step.
“The team have worked hard to get it on one of the cars here, and then we’ll have the rest in Japan too. So it is an exciting couple of weekends for us.”
Norris says his confidence emanates from McLaren’s previous upgrades in 2023 immediately delivering a marked step in performance compared to previous years.
“Sometimes we would put stuff on and it’s not really delivered to what we wanted or what it should have done,” he explained.
“But definitely up to Austria and how much we kind of progressed since them, it gives me more hope.
“It’s also a bit more slower speed biased, which is a bit different to what we had in Austria. This is our first time we’ve been able to really try to target that a bit more.”
Lando Norris (GBR) McLaren. 14.09.2023. Formula 1 World Championship, Rd 16, Singapore Grand Prix, Marina Bay Street Circuit, Singapore, Preparation Day.
Despite the noticeable strides McLaren has made this year, Norris has repeatedly insisted that the MCL60’s core characteristics don’t suit his driving style.
The Briton asserts that the latest batch of updates will not ease his concerns on that front, issuing that the modifications are solely aimed at improving performance.
“I think it’s not going to help in exactly the places where, from a driving style point of view, I would probably want it, but it should just help with a little bit of overall loads, cornering speeds and just kind of consistency, tyre wear traction, things like that,” explained Norris.
“It is just performance enhancement, it’s not like something to make me feel better in the car.”
Nevertheless, Norris says that rectifying McLaren’s weaknesses – most notably its deficit in slow-speed corners – is more important to its chances of catching Red Bull than focusing on its strengths.
“That’s 100%, because there are some places where we lose a tremendous amount of lap time at times,” he added.
“It’s down to the same things every time, where we just can’t change with a bit of aero balance or mechanical balance.
“No matter what we try we are bad and we struggle, so I think those things let us down in quite a few races. And even at some places we go to, we’re extremely competitive on 90% of the track, it’s just certain things which then make us look bad.
“If we didn’t have some of these bad things, we would be very strong and a lot more competitive and competing for podiums.”
“If we can fix a little bit of this slow speed [weakness], if I can get a bit more what I believe the car needs to take that next step, a bit of it is what we hopefully will have this weekend, a bit of it will be what I want from a driving style point of view, that’s when I’m confident we can take the fight to the majority of the teams, including Red Bull.”
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