Lando Norris sets McLaren target

While McLaren isn’t naive about the challenge facing them, the team is hopeful of taking the fight to Red Bull in 2024.

McLaren driver Lando Norris believes that his team could position itself as a formidable contender to challenge Red Bull Racing in the near future. 

Despite McLaren’s recent string of impressive performances, Norris recognises the formidable task of maintaining their current meteoric rise in the sport.

McLaren, based in Woking, has been on an outstanding run of late, with Norris and his rookie teammate, Oscar Piastri, achieving back-to-back double-podium finishes in Japan and Qatar. 

Piastri’s victory in the Sprint at the Lusail International Circuit underscored the remarkable performance of the MCL60 car and the team’s progress since a challenging start to the season. 

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This success has fuelled speculation among rivals that McLaren has ascended to become the second-best team in Formula 1, right behind Red Bull.

When asked about the possibility of McLaren challenging Red Bull next season, Norris cautiously expressed his belief, stating, “Yes, I think if we continue at this rate of development – which… it’s impossible to continue at this rate, it’s always going to slow down. 

“Within quite a short time, it’s been half a year, to make as many improvements as we have in terms of lap time.” 

Norris acknowledged the substantial progress McLaren has achieved in a short time span, even in the face of increasingly restrictive regulations.

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Norris went on to explain, “That’s why I think it’s such a good achievement, what we have managed to achieve from Bahrain to now, or even from Bahrain to Austria, Silverstone, and Budapest.” 

He expressed his confidence that McLaren is poised to enter the upcoming season with a more competitive car, given the trajectory of their recent development.

McLaren’s early-season struggles had sparked speculation about Norris’s future and his patience with the team that provided him with his Formula 1 break. 

However, as the season progressed, upgrades to both Norris’s and Piastri’s cars, coupled with a technical team overhaul, catapulted McLaren into contention alongside Mercedes and Ferrari, surpassing a struggling Aston Martin.

Despite the visible progression, Norris emphasised, “The only thing we have failed to do over the last three years is start the season with a strong car.” 

He expressed the team’s commitment to addressing this issue and noted their dedication to achieving a more consistent and stronger start to the season.

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In assessing their competition, Norris acknowledged that Formula 1 powerhouse Mercedes remained a formidable contender. 

He explained, “Mercedes, for me, are easily the favourites to be the second-quickest team, but we are closing in on them.” 

While recognising the consistent performance of Mercedes, Norris remains determined to elevate McLaren’s performance at all circuits, striving to be a contender in the ever-competitive world of Formula 1.