Lando Norris ‘doesn’t want to get hopes up’ in Alpine battle

Sam Cooper
McLaren driver Lando Norris in the pit lane. Zandvoort September 2022.

Lando Norris suspects Alpine is still quicker despite guiding his McLaren car to P4 in FP2 of the Italian Grand Prix.

McLaren are trailing the French team in the race for P4 in the Constructors’ Championship by 24 points and the trend has been moving towards Alpine in recent weeks.

Norris appeared in a position to help cut down that gap after he was the fourth quickest man during the second practice session at Monza. Alpine’s Esteban Ocon and Fernando Alonso finished in eighth and ninth respectively.

Still, the 22-year-old did not want to get his, or McLaren fans’, hopes up as he suspects that come race day, there is still work to be done if the team want to be as quick as their rivals.

“Decent day. We showed some good pace at times, made some good steps from FP1 to FP2,” he told F1.com. “We changed quite a lot of stuff on the car.

“I don’t want to get our hopes up. I feel like we’re still quite a way off where Alpine are. Maybe not so much on one-lap pace but in the long run, [we] are quite a chunk off. So some little positives here and there.

“But as we expected, I think a little coming into this weekend, not as competitive as we were in Zandvoort and Budapest and things like that and maybe a little bit more in line with Spa. So we’ll keep working and see what more we can bring for tomorrow.”

Norris was also asked if he had exceeded his own expectations and admitted that while he had, he did not expect much more to come over the weekend.

“After the lap I did yes but it was a good lap. This felt like one of my qualifying laps so I didn’t feel like I would have a lot more to bring tomorrow. We definitely made a few steps forward.

“Generally our qualifying pace has been there but just [not] the race pace. Just as soon as you have some tyre deg and some tyre wear and whatever the car just becomes quite a handful. So a little bit ahead of where we thought we would be in some cases and other cases not.

Norris’ team-mate Daniel Ricciardo returned to the scene of his most recent win and guided his McLaren car to a P10 finish in FP1 and P11 in FP2.