Lando Norris: Alpine have ‘done a pretty bad job’

Lando Norris is the only non-Red Bull, Ferrari or Mercedes driver to finish on the podium this season.

McLaren’s Lando Norris feels that Alpine should have pressed home the clear pace advantage they have held over the British side this season.

Alpine and McLaren have been disputing fourth in the championship for the best part of the year, after Norris and Daniel Ricciardo had suffered a nightmare start.

The Woking squad walked out of the Bahrain Grand Prix with no points following a surprisingly poor weekend but, three rounds later in Imola, Norris was on the podium.

All told, the Briton has scored points 12 times this season, which is as many as Alpine’s Esteban Ocon.

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The Frenchman’s team-mate, Fernando Alonso, has been in t top 10 11 times, but Ricciardo has had a tougher time of it in the other McLaren car, scoring points in four of the 15 races thus far in 2022.

Had the Australian been at one with the McLaren car, his results might well have turned the tide in the fight for fourth, which Alpine currently lead by 24 points.

Alpine have an average highest qualifying position of seventh this season, while McLaren’s highest average is eighth, so the squad from Enstone, just about, seem to have a better package on pure pace.

But there have been issues for Otmar Szafnauer’s team, including an oil seal failure on Alonso’s car in Australia that cost him a shot at pole, before an engine issue saw him fall to ninth in Canada.

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Esteban Ocon suffered a non-finish in Britain when his engine failed, but McLaren’s reliability has been relatively solid – Ricciardo’s power unit gave out in Jeddah in round two, but they have been mostly clean since.

Reliability and bits of fortune falling the way of the respective midfield teams has played a part over the course of the season, but Alpine, with their excellent car, should be further ahead in Norris’ eyes.

“Alpine has been ahead of us since pretty much day one of the season and generally have been ahead of us,” he said.

“It’s maybe three or four races this season where we might just have been a little bit quicker than them.

“Otherwise, the majority, and quite easily the majority, they’ve been a bit of a better car. 

“So for them to only just be ahead of us in the championship is more of – we’ve done a very good job and they’ve done a pretty bad job.”

The 22-year-old expanded on the misfortune and the errors that have conspired to prevent Alpine from extending their advantage.

“When you see the margins of qualifying from them to us, and sometimes their pace in the race compared to us sometimes, it’s never that much the opposite way around, so they have a better car,” explained Norris.

“They have just done a worse job throughout the season and made more mistakes, they’ve had more problems with the car. 

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“Fernando was in Australia for P2 or P3 in qualifying and we were miles away, so yeah, they’ve had a better car and they have pretty much all season.”

While Alpine are ahead on the teams’ battle, Norris is clear of both Alpines in the Drivers’ Standings.

He sits seventh, with Ocon and Alonso eighth and ninth respectively. Ricciardo is 13th on 19 points.