Lando Norris reveals his ‘hate’ for driving new-era Formula 1 cars

Jamie Woodhouse
Lando Norris's McLaren goes beyond track limits. Hungaroring July 2022.

Lando Norris's McLaren goes beyond track limits during Hungarian Grand Prix practice. Hungaroring July 2022.

Lando Norris is not yet a fan of the “different” driving experience at the wheel of the new generation Formula 1 car.

2022 was the first campaign where these ground-effect challengers were in action, while the tyres also added an extra element of change.

The series did away with the 13-inch rubber, Pirelli instead introducing 18-inch specs as of the 2022 campaign.

So, with a season of experience driving the McLaren MCL36, Norris reported that he is yet to find a soft spot for these new cars.

“I hate driving the cars compared to last year [2021],” said Norris, as per

“They’re a different challenge. I wouldn’t say they’re as enjoyable as previous years’ cars, just in terms of how comfortable they are and how much you can play around with hitting the kerbs and lines and stuff like that. You’re a bit more limited now.

“Even with set-up, you’re a bit more limited. Generally, for us, it’s just [a case of] go as low as you can and as stiff as you can, and then you go a bit softer if it’s too stiff.

“That’s basically how it goes every single weekend whereas, in previous years, there was always a lot more to adjust and to try, and you always ended up with different weekends with different solutions.

“This year, not so much. There’s less playing around with actual car set-up, in a way. There [are] just bigger challenges of trying to achieve that one good set-up.”

Of course, these new regulations were very much in their infancy in 2022, with plenty of evolution expected after such a drastic shift.

However, Norris is not confident that such progress will make the cars better, he can only see the opposite being true at this stage.

“If anything, it’s only ever going to get worse,” Norris predicted. “Because the more downforce you put on the car, the worse it’s going to get.

“I expect the more [the] cars change and improve, the more downforce you have, the worse following [on track] is going to be.

“I think that’s kind of how it works, anyway, unless there’s further implements and changes that the FIA bring in to stop certain changes, which caused a lot of the dirty air.”

Lando Norris just needs a faster McLaren

Whether Norris will ever get to a stage where he actually likes these Formula 1 cars will only become clear in the future, but he definitely needs to be competing in a 2023 McLaren challenger which has found pace compared to the MCL36.

Forced to recover from a brake duct problem at the start of the 2022 season, McLaren did recover to the extent of a P5 finish in the final standings, but with just the one podium courtesy of Norris at Imola, it was far from the step forward that had been expected of McLaren.

So, with the team and Norris targeting 2024 as the season where they want to be fighting at the front of the grid again, 2023 must see the McLaren challenger moving closer to the leading trio of Red Bull, Ferrari and Mercedes at the very least, even if Norris does not particularly enjoy driving it.

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