Red Bull’s mighty DRS on display at Spa has Lando Norris suspecting McLaren are “missing something” in this area, too.
After a very impressive season with the MCL35M in F1 2021, its successor, the MCL36 has been providing McLaren with more headaches than they would have liked as they try to hold on to being ‘best of the rest’ in Formula 1.
Both Norris and departing team-mate Daniel Ricciardo left the Belgian Grand Prix empty-handed this past race weekend, allowing rivals Alpine to open up a 20-point gap thanks to Fernando Alonso’s P5 and Esteban Ocon’s P7.
Norris was generally happy with the straight-line speed of the MCL36 at Spa, but the problem was not capitalising on it when DRS was deployed.
“I think we were probably one of the quicker ones on the straights,” Norris said, as quoted by Motorsport.com.
“Where we lose a lot is in DRS, for some reason in DRS we’re pretty shocking.
“Some cars are a lot better than others, like in a pure straightline condition I think yesterday we were quicker than Red Bull.
“But then the Red Bull opens DRS and gain somehow like another 15km/h and is in a completely different league to a lot of people.
“So there’s something we’re maybe missing with DRS, so that makes our overtaking opportunities less than other people.
“But straightline we were probably one of the quickest this weekend, final sector probably one of the quickest at times yesterday.
“But just slow speed, medium speed, high speed, nothing was a strength this weekend. We’re just a bit down in every area.”
Next up on the schedule is Zandvoort and those track characteristics should, in theory, give McLaren a better foundation for potential success in their fight against Alpine.
However, Norris is not getting too excited, especially with finishing P14 there during the 2021 campaign which was comfortably his worst result of the season bar retirement in Hungary.
He said: “High downforce [at Zandvoort], so hopefully moves us a little bit more back in line with Budapest’s kind of pace, I hope. But you never know, it was our worst track last season.
“So I’m hoping this year it’s not the case. Because some of the problems that we had in previous years are maybe not so evident this year, and we’ve got other problems. So we’ll see.
“It can’t be a lot worse I hope than this weekend.”