Lando Norris has quipped that McLaren will be fighting at the front with Red Bull and Ferrari this weekend due to an upgrade introduced to the car.
Norris and team-mate Daniel Ricciardo have scored points 12 times between them in the opening 11 rounds of what has been a difficult year so far for the British side.
The 22-year-old’s podium in Imola was a highlight amid confusingly poor results in an underperforming car, and it was previously reported that McLaren had stopped development on the MCL36 to focus on next year.
However, they have had an upgrade planned for France for a long time, and in an ideal world if you are a McLaren fan, it will launch them to the front of the pack.
“It’s going to make us so much quicker,” Norris joked on Thursday.
“We could be in the fight with Red Bull and Ferrari this weekend… that’s about it.”
Rosanna Tennant told Norris that he was “pranking” her, to which he replied, “I wish I wasn’t pranking you!”
On a more serious note, Norris divulged that upgrades planned at the start of the season need to be spread out more because of the budget cap.
“We have a few new things on the car this weekend, but they’re things which have been in the pipeline for a long time, so I think what we’re trying to develop from now on is what’s a bit more limited, which we have to be quite careful with from the budget cap side of things,” he explained.
“If you have an upgrade now, it’s something that’s been designed or made or that’s been in the pipeline already for months.
“So, it was always the plan to have something here so hopefully it can work well and it can bring us a bit more performance.
“Then we can fight the Baskin Robbins cars over there!”
McLaren have had both cars in the points in both of the last two French Grand Prix, giving the young Briton optimism heading into this weekend.
“I think in the past, from my side as a driver, it’s always suited me quite well and I’ve always seemed to do quite well here,” added Norris.
“And I enjoy it at the same time, especially I think my race last year was a lot of fun.
“I did a different strategy and therefore I had to race through and I had fun on track, so I’m hoping that this weekend can be something similar, but it’s a different year.
“We’ve struggled a bit more so far compared to previous seasons, so we’ll have to wait until we’re on track to understand.”
Norris and Ricciardo ended the first practice session seventh and tenth respectively in Le Castellet, before finishing sixth and ninth in the second session.