Norris extinguishes McLaren optimism after strong showing in Australia

Lando Norris ended the 2022 Australian Grand Prix fifth, just ahead of team-mate Daniel Ricciardo after a much better day for McLaren.

Lando Norris has revealed that there was nothing significantly different with his McLaren car at this weekend’s Australian Grand Prix, despite the extraordinary gains they appeared to enjoy.

McLaren got both cars into the final phase of qualifying on Saturday for the first time since the end of 2021, and Norris led Ricciardo home as the pair finished fifth and sixth respectively – the Australian earning his first points of the season.

Their performance this season was a marked improvement on their struggling opening two rounds, and it was put to the 22-year-old that his team have been making some impressive gains in the last couple of weeks.

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“In a way,” he cautiously replied.

“It’s more we’ve just changed the track and the car’s gone quicker. I want to be optimistic like you and be so happy, but the car’s exactly the same as Bahrain.

“It is [track specific]. I think I’ve said this in every single interview but I think we’ve made some small steps as a team, everyone’s working really hard to take these steps forward.

“But at the same time there’s not too many things different, it’s just the car works very well here so there is a lot of positives we can take away, we just have to work on the negatives.”

The new technical regulations are aimed at improving the overtaking spectacle, and Norris suggests that it has cultivated the desired results.

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“I think it’s all the new regulations, right? It’s so much better to follow in these cars,” he said.

“It’s a lot more enjoyable and you get closer so there’s always more chances to have.”

Just under 420,000 fans streamed through the gates over the course of the weekend – a new sporting attendance record in Australia as it held its first race since 2019 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“[It’s] incredible to be part of that, I’m one of them!” Norris joked.

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“No, it’s special, especially with all the people who have… it’s not really COVID-safe here but it’s nice, very enjoyable, it feels like how F1 should be and how F1 was [before the pandemic].”

Norris has now risen to eighth in the Drivers’ Standings after a seventh-placed finish in Jeddah and sixth in Sunday’s race in Melbourne.