Lando Norris is full of excitement as he feels McLaren are now very much on the right path with more improvement to come, their extremely valuable F1 2023 learnings soon to be built upon by key new recruits.
Norris, by his own admission, feared the worst when McLaren started the season languishing towards the back of the grid, but very few could have predicted the surge to come.
The introduction of their B-Spec MCL60 in Austria had McLaren shooting up the order, a highly effective development programme from there meaning they remained regular podium contenders, Norris claiming seven and Oscar Piastri two by the end of F1 2023, while Piastri also won the Qatar sprint race.
Lando Norris heaps praise on McLaren F1 2023 performance
Additional reporting by Thomas Maher
McLaren’s rise saw them overhaul Aston Martin to claim P4 in the Constructors’ Championship, while they also set a new record for F1’s fastest pit stop with an incredible 1.8-second effort on Norris’ car during the Qatar GP.
Asked by media including PlanetF1.com whether he could quite believe McLaren’s turnaround in F1 2023, Norris replied: “No. For us to catch Mercedes, for us to catch Ferrari. In terms of pace, we’ve been behind them for two years. They’ve not really taken any steps forward and we’ve taken a massive step forward.
“There’s plenty more things that we know we can improve on, so I think it’s a good time for us. A few more bits of the puzzle to put together, but we found the key pieces and I think we know what direction to go.
“So I’m really very proud of the whole team, because like you said, if we were in Bahrain now and I looked ahead, I was like dreading the season already.
“So to come away with seven podiums and all the great moments we’ve had were definitely not expected and I’ve got to thank the team for all of that.
“And the world record pit stop, all of those things, the team has done an amazing job in so many areas. I’m proud and I think we’re on the right track, so I’m excited for next year.”
New faces prepare to join McLaren revolution
Under new team principal Andrea Stella’s watch, McLaren completed an early-2023 restructure of their key technical staff, with the point where integral pieces to that puzzle move to the team drawing nearer.
Former Ferrari chief engineer David Sanchez is set to arrive in the new year, while ex-Red Bull stalwart Rob Marshall will also arrive at the McLaren Technology Centre as the team strive to continue their momentum into F1 2024.
Norris said the learnings that McLaren has made over the last six months already is serving them very well, with this fresh expert input then set to keep the ball rolling.
“I’m very excited,” said Norris as he looked ahead to F1 2024. “If we just start the season how we were in the middle, we’re P2 in the Constructors’ and P2 in the Drivers’.
“I know it doesn’t always work like that, but we’re on the right track, that’s what I’m trying to say.
“We have some new hirings, the guys coming in in 2024, so maybe not everything that they can bring to us we would have on the car straightaway, but some things that we just already know now and we’ve learned already over the last four, five, six months. From the progress we’ve made, we’ve learned a lot.
“I’m excited just because we’re finally on the right track and we know which direction to push. I just want to start the season off well. If we can start well in Bahrain, then I’ll be a lot more excited.”
The Bahrain Grand Prix on March 2 will be the curtain-raiser for the F1 2024 campaign.