Lando Norris opens up on deep McLaren MCL38 worries ahead of F1 2024 opener

Jamie Woodhouse
McLaren's Lando Norris looks up in Bahrain.

McLaren's Lando Norris looks up.

Lando Norris gave a clear “no” to McLaren challenging Ferrari, never mind Red Bull at the Bahrain season-opener, as he senses a lack of progress in addressing their weak points.

There is a great sense of intrigue surrounding McLaren heading into the F1 2024 campaign, considering how they surged up the order in-season with an impactful string of upgrades for their MCL60 last year.

But, while Norris was in a rather buoyant mood ahead of pre-season testing, talking of McLaren going into an F1 season on the right foot for the first time in a long time, it is safe to say he was playing down expectations following the three days of running in Bahrain.

Lando Norris rules out Bahrain podium, McLaren weaknesses remain

While Red Bull’s Max Verstappen set the pace on Day 1, it was over to Ferrari to top the second and final day, while Ferrari team boss Fred Vasseur said they were on “another planet” in terms of improvement on tyre management over race simulations.

So, when asked by Sky F1’s Ted Kravitz as part of his ‘Ted’s Notebook’ programme whether McLaren can match the times Ferrari were delivering, Norris replied: “No.”

How about a podium finish at least to get McLaren’s F1 2024 campaign underway in style? “No,” was once more the clear response from Norris.

The 24-year-old went on to explain that Bahrain “has never been our best track”, while he also made the worrying prediction that 2023’s dominant force Red Bull has “extended” their buffer over the rest of the field with their latest creation, the RB20.

“Bahrain has never been our best track,” Norris pointed out.

“Even last year when we had a good car, there was a few races we were close to Red Bull and close to Max. I think at the minute they’ve probably extended their gap on everyone.” recommends

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McLaren found themselves as the closest challenger to Verstappen and Red Bull at times in 2023, as Kravitz pointed out to Norris, though the playing down of expectations continued as Norris responded: “In certain races and other races we were not even in the top five fastest teams.”

To that point, Norris said that while he is seeing progress in certain areas with the McLaren MCL38, enough to convince him they are trending in the right direction, equally he is “not very convinced” that their areas of weakness have been eased in any way.

“We have our good places and bad places,” said Norris.

“I don’t really think at the minute we’ve improved on where we’re going to be bad. I think that’s still clear. Some areas we still really need to work on and I’m not very convinced we’ve made many steps in the right direction.

“But other places we’ve improved a lot and I’m happy as a team we are moving in the right direction with that.”

Norris signed a multi-year McLaren contract extension ahead of the new campaign, his previous deal having been set to expire at the end of 2025.

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