Falling short in their battle against Alpine, Lando Norris has blamed his McLaren MCL36’s lack of front-end grip for that, frustratedly saying it is a problem they have had for years.
McLaren and Alpine fought over fourth place in the 2022 Constructors’ Championship throughout the 22-race season, the two level on points midway through the campaign.
Alpine eked out a narrow advantage over the Woking team only for McLaren to briefly take the lead at the Singapore Grand Prix, recording their best result of the season with Norris fourth to Daniel Ricciardo’s P5.
However, that is where it ended. Alpine were back in front in Japan while a double DNF, McLaren’s only two-car retirement of the season in Brazil, put an end to their challenge.
Norris reckons the team’s chances of securing best of the rest were hurt by a car that does not have enough front-end grip.
“It’s just our car,” he told Sky Sports, “the characteristics of the car. The things we struggled with, the car doesn’t have enough front. For me, all I need is front. I don’t need rear tyres.
“But when I have front we can be quick.
“As soon as we destroy the front tyres, we were seconds off, or half a second, or one second off. So it’s just the characteristic the car relies on too much.
“But we know all of this. We’ve known it, it’s just been something we’ve had for years sadly and it’s our job to get rid of that for next season.”
Norris wrapped up the campaign with a P6 result at the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, the driver also bagging the fastest-lap point, with his team-mate Ricciardo P9 on his McLaren swansong.
“To be honest, P6, fastest lap as well, which must mean I was the quickest driver out there,” the Briton said. “But I’m happy.
“I think we’ve ended the season on a high. I gave the team a good amount of energy to go into the off-season.
“We were close, we tried, P6 as well. We just didn’t quite have the magical race we needed to get ahead of Alpine in the championship, but we finished where we deserved to finish.”
“We were close,” he continued. “It’s been probably one of our best weekends in terms of actual pace to the leaders. So there’s positives.
“I think the whole season has just been a lot of ups and downs. Certainly not enough ups.”
McLaren need two top-ten cars for best of the rest
Although the car was a problem for the McLaren drivers this season, both Norris and Ricciardo saying they had struggled to adapt to it, it is fair to say the Australian had the most trouble.
Ricciardo managed only seven top-ten results in 22 races, for 37 points, compared to Norris’ 17 and 122 points.
Had he been able to match Norris, or at least been a bit closer, it would have made a big difference in the championship given Alpine’s reliability issues.
Next season, Norris has a new team-mate, the much-lauded Oscar Piastri. The Aussie has shown in the junior series he is quick to adapt, winning three titles in three seasons as he worked his way up the motor racing ranks.
McLaren will be hoping the 21-year-old is able to do the same in Formula 1 as they need two drivers in the points if they want best of the rest and that extra 10 million that comes with it.