McLaren’s Lando Norris believes that his team are a little adrift of Mercedes and Alfa Romeo after a disappointing weekend for the Woking side in Miami.
Norris qualified eighth last weekend, six positions ahead of Daniel Ricciardo who suffered a start-up problem ahead of his second run in Q2, ruining his chances of setting a competitive lap at the end of the session.
A slow stop for the 22-year-old then sent him out of the top 10, and McLaren’s woes were compounded when Pierre Gasly, having suffered damage as a result of a hit from Fernando Alonso, re-joined the circuit and wiped the Briton out of the race.
Ricciardo could only manage P13 as the eight-time champions walked away from a race with no points for the second time this season, and the Australian confirmed that their lack of pace was “track specific.”
Mercedes’ aerodynamic upgrade helped them capitalise on the straights in Florida, and it also seemed to reduce the volume of “porpoising” George Russell and Sir Lewis Hamilton were suffering, and they finished fifth and sixth respectively.
Norris, having also been out-performed by Alfa Romeo’s Valtteri Bottas, affirms that, at least last weekend, those two teams had the beating of McLaren.
“I think we are behind Mercedes,” he said.
“We are also behind Alfa Romeo but are well in the running with Alpine and AlphaTauri. Haas are somewhere in that region as well. So I think it’s quite simple – it’s tight.”
Norris’ assertion that McLaren’s pace in Australia was also track specific seemed to be debunked by his tremendous podium finish in Imola, but the pendulum swung the other way in the United States as the Mercedes and Alfa Romeo cars used their adroitness in a straight line to their advantage.
Nonetheless, the six-time podium finisher does not believe his car is necessarily a bad one; they just need a bit of a push to consistently compete at the top of the intense midfield scrap.
“In the race, we have decent pace. It’s just going to take a bit more for us to take on Mercedes and the guys in front. If we can do that, we can be happy,” he explained.
Norris believes that Mercedes also have an advantage in the “slow corners,” particularly useful for six of the 17 turns in Miami, so he accepts that there are some circuits that will suit other cars better.
“Miami has a lot of slow corners where Mercedes have one of the best cars in the field. From day one, the Mercedes has been good in those sections,” he added.
“I guess they figured out this weekend how to get more potential out of the car. So I’m not surprised. It’s been like that in Formula 1 for years. Sometimes your car suits the track, sometimes it suits another car better.”
Norris’ retirement and Hamilton’s P6 saw the 37-year-old move back ahead of his compatriot for sixth in the Drivers’ Championship.