Lando Norris warns McLaren will have ‘no excuses’ if not in F1 2024 title fight

Jon Wilde
Lando Norris' McLaren ahead of Sergio Perez's Red Bull. Bahrain March 2022.

Lando Norris' McLaren ahead of Sergio Perez's Red Bull during FP3 for the Bahrain Grand Prix. Sakhir March 2022.

Lando Norris says McLaren can have “no excuses” if they are not challenging the top teams by 2024.

Since 2019, McLaren have been at the top of the midfield, finishing fourth, third and fourth in the Constructors’ Championship and currently embroiled in a head-to-head fight with Alpine to try and avoid slipping down to fifth.

Such has been the progress both on and off track at the Woking-based team that they feel the next step is to start returning to their title-winning days, which they have not experienced since Lewis Hamilton became Drivers’ champion in 2008.

In the Constructors’, you have to look all the way back to 1998 to find the last McLaren triumph.

But with the revised technical regulations from 2022 and the budget cap having been designed to bring the field closer together, McLaren team principal Andreas Seidl has said 2024 is the year they are targeting when they should also have a new wind tunnel and simulator in operation.

When that was put to Norris during an interview with Auto Motor und Sport, the Briton said: “I agree, 100 per cent. That will be our first year in which we no longer have any excuses. At the moment, we can still make good excuses.

“We always look at what we can do better and 2024 will be the first year when we will operate almost at the level of the top teams with our infrastructure. The rest is up to us, the people who work here.

“I believe in us. We have reached a point where we understand better what we need to do, what direction we need to take and how to achieve our goals.

“We also have a better understanding of why we haven’t taken as many steps forward as we wanted to in the last two years.

“Is it because of our car philosophy? The design? The wind tunnel? I hope our new one will help us for 2024 and 2025. I have to have faith that the team can do a good job.”

Lando Norris with a McLaren colleague at the Australian GP. Melbourne April 2022.
Lando Norris walking with a McLaren colleague in the Australian Grand Prix paddock. Melbourne April 2022.

Norris goes into round 19 of the 2022 season, the United States Grand Prix, as the only driver outside of the Red Bull, Ferrari and Mercedes teams to have achieved a podium finish. He is seventh in the Drivers’ standings.

Asked to his rate his year so far out of 10, he said “8.9” and asked why, replied: “When I say nine, it sounds over-confident. But as soon as I had a chance to score good points, I was there. If we had a chance of Q3 in qualifying, I was in.

“Except for Barcelona. That was my only qualifying with a mistake. They cancelled my lap there because of track limits, but they had never had them in that corner before. I was also sick there.

“Other than that, I never made a big mistake that knocked me out in Q1 or Q2. Maybe some minor mistakes that cost me one or two positions.

“In races, I wasn’t guilty of anything that cost me five places or so. I feel like I’m helping the team fight Alpine with my performances.”

Read more: Lando Norris confirms ‘there were talks with Red Bull’ before McLaren extension