While McLaren’s gain from their Baku floor upgrade may have been rather marginal, Lando Norris says this is only the foundation for what is to come.
McLaren by their own admission went into the F1 2023 campaign with an MCL60 which they were not happy with, confirming that the challenger was behind target and would need upgrades to bring them back into the fight behind runaway leaders Red Bull.
And Baku was the scene for part one of this development process, a very strong weekend for the McLaren duo of Norris and Oscar Piastri suggesting it was an instant success.
Both drivers reached the final Q3 stage of qualifying, while Norris scored a P9 finish in Sunday’s Grand Prix.
And while Norris cautioned that Baku was expected to be a stronger track for the team anyway, rather than this upgrade unlocking a chunk of performance, he did confirm that it has proven to be a positive step for the team.
“I’m always the guy that’s a little bit more reserved with these things, but they’ve definitely helped, they’ve moved the car in the right direction,” Norris said on Channel 4.
“I think if we came here without them, we still wouldn’t look too bad, it would still be looking at one of our better weekends, but they definitely helped us move in the right direction.”
So, just how much lap time did McLaren find in Baku through this upgrade alone? “One tenth, maybe two,” was the verdict from Norris, though this is far from the end of the story, instead, it is just the beginning.
Norris said that now, the challenge is learning from the new direction which McLaren has embarked on with this floor upgrade, and it is the learnings from it which he says will then allow the team to target true difference-maker upgrades.
“The guys and the whole team have understood a lot about it because it’s a bit of a different philosophy on the concept of it,” Norris continued.
“So it’s more like learning from this and the future developments we can make from this floor are going to be what gives us that next bigger step that we’re after.
“So yeah, confident, the team have done a great job getting them here, it’s more about developing it now and bringing some bigger things later.”
Like his Baku GP finishing position, Norris finds himself P9 in the early Drivers’ standings, while McLaren sit P5 in the Constructors’ Championship, now 48 points behind Ferrari a position ahead.