Lando Norris believes McLaren are being compromised by how “sensitive” their car is from race to race.
McLaren are third in the constructors’ World Championship – admittedly because Racing Point were docked 15 points as a punishment in the ‘copying’ controversy – but are lacking a touch of consistency in performance.
For example, at the Italian Grand Prix, they were as competitive as they have been all season, Carlos Sainz finishing P2 and Norris P4, whereas across the entire Tuscan Grand Prix weekend just seven days later McLaren struggled.
Sainz was among four drivers to retire as a result of the crash on the Safety Car restart at Mugello, while Norris ended up P6 but struggled to keep pace with direct rivals from the Racing Point and Renault teams.
Norris had also failed to reach Q3 for the first time this year, qualifying in P11, and had predicted that his race pace would not be “anything special”.
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After the race, the Briton said: “The car was very difficult to drive. The conditions were very similar to yesterday and weren’t suiting our car, so it was very difficult.
“We’ve got a lot of work to do with the car, even though in some races we’ve been very fast, but it seems so sensitive to different conditions and different track surfaces and so on, and it makes our life a lot more difficult.
“We came here thinking we would be pretty quick, we had a lot of confidence and it went away pretty much straight away.
“We have to understand this car even more, even though we’ve had it for a while and had some good results.
“F1 cars aren’t easy to figure out and from my side, the mechanics, the engineers, we all have to continue to push and do even better.”
Norris thought it was the attritional nature of the Tuscan Grand Prix – only 12 of the 20 cars finished – that allowed him to finish as high as sixth.
“We just stayed out of the crashes and the rubbish and did a lot better than we were expecting,” said the 20-year-old.
“So as much as it was a long and tough race, I was very happy. We didn’t have the pace but I think we made the most of a pretty poor weekend, so hopefully the next one (Russian Grand Prix) can be a little bit better.”