Lando Norris believes just a small time gain extra from his McLaren MCL60 could have netted him his first Grand Prix win in 2023.
The British driver ends 2023 with a particularly unwanted record – that of the most podiums without a GP victory, as he racked up his 13th career podium during the season.
Norris is yet to win a race in Formula 1, while rookie teammate Oscar Piastri crossed the line to win the Sprint race in Qatar, although neither driver was able to win a Grand Prix outright despite the impressive performance of the MCL60.
Lando Norris pinpoints areas of improvement needed at McLaren
McLaren started the season under a cloud as the MCL60 proved tricky and uncompetitive, only for a series of mid-season upgrades to take the car in a different concept direction that transformed their season.
Starting with the Austrian Grand Prix, both Norris and Piastri became consistent front-runners and were regularly a thorn in the side of Red Bull’s Max Verstappen.
Speaking on the F1 Nation podcast as Norris secured sixth in the Drivers’ Championship, the British driver reflected on his rollercoaster year and said only a small performance gain more could have resulted in him winning a Grand Prix.
“I think Brazil and Qatar were the main places,” he said.
“Suzuka was not too bad.
“What is it? It’s small things, you know, it’s not even like it’s half a second a lap. It’s one-tenth, one-and-a-half tenths a lap maybe.
“So that’s what we need to find.”
Asked to specify what he needs from the car, whether it be more mechanical grip or some more downforce, Norris said the main weakness of the MCL60 remained the car’s dislike of slow corners.
“In my opinion, it’s a little bit the slow-speed performance, but also the drivability of the car,” he said.
“For us, Oscar and myself, we find you have to drive it in such a particular way.
“When you had like 99.9 percent, it’s amazing. But, when you go 100 percent, it’s game over.
“And, when you’re 98 percent, it’s game over, we’re not quick.
“So you have to drive it in this perfect little range, but it’s too difficult.”
Pedro de la Rosa: McLaren did a better job than Aston Martin
Aston Martin ambassador Pedro de la Rosa, appearing on the same podcast, praised McLaren’s turnaround as the Woking-based squad pipped Aston by 22 points to wrap up fifth in the Championship – the two teams having a mirror image season as Aston Martin started well but fell off the boil.
Asked whether McLaren had had the faster car for the latter half of the season, De La Rosa said: “Definitely. It’s not a big surprise.
“Obviously, we fought that until the very last moment.
“But, after the start, when there was no incident, you knew that, if there were no DNFs from their side, it would be very, very difficult.
“We needed not only 11 points (sic), we needed 12 points because they had more seconds than us so better results.
“So, all in all, they’ve done a better job, congratulations to them. We just have to come back stronger next year.
“It’s incredible, the amount of lap time they found over the season, especially since their upgrades in Austria and then Silverstone, I think it was.
“They’ve just made the car faster every race, and I think they’ve won the development race this season.”