Lando Norris delivers worrying feedback despite clear McLaren progress

Thomas Maher
McLaren driver Lando Norris on track at the Austrian Grand Prix. Spielberg, July 2023.

McLaren's Lando Norris on track at the Austrian Grand Prix. Spielberg, July 2023.

Lando Norris still has concerns about the handling of his McLaren, despite the step forward in performance in Austria.

McLaren introduced a big upgrade package to their MCL60 for the Austrian Grand Prix weekend, although only Lando Norris was the beneficiary as the team only had enough components for one car for the event.

The upgrades saw extensive change to the floor design, as well as the sidepods and the engine cover, with Norris placing his car consistently into high points positions through the weekend – even if the Sprint race went wrong after going into anti-stall at Turn 3 on the opening lap.

Lando Norris “almost crashed” at every corner

Norris came home in fifth in the Grand Prix, promoted to fourth afterward as a result of Carlos Sainz’s additional time penalty for exceeding track limits, and said he’d been pleasantly surprised by how much stronger the race pace had been compared to what he’d expected.

“I was a bit nervous coming into the race, that the race pace was going to let us down today but actually it was better than I was expecting which was a good surprise,” Norris said, as quoted by Motorsport.com.

But the British driver revealed the car’s handling still left a lot to be desired.

“It’s still not great, Fernando [Alonso] was clearly quicker a chunk every lap, and I am almost crashing in every corner,” he said.

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“But to be fifth [fourth after Sainz’s penalty] shows we’ve made a good step forward, so I am very happy with that.

“The car just goes quicker around every corner but the way you have to drive is exactly the same which is our next issue to tackle.

“Things that we’ve been complaining about all year that are still the same but just at a higher level, so I feel I can be really confident if we can tackle these issues.

“I feel like they are letting us down a lot at the minute, so it is not just about downforce, it is about handling and how you handle the car. More technical things that we need to tackle and understand.

“When we do that, I am confident we can fight the quicker cars ahead of us.”

Lando Norris: The MCL60 is definitely quicker than it was

With McLaren having come into the 2023 season under a cloud as the recalcitrant MCL60 proved uncompetitive at the start of the season, the recent upgrade push has brought the team into a much more competitive performance envelope – even if Norris said the car is still particularly tricky to handle.

“100%, the car is quicker, it is quicker everywhere,” Norris commented

“It is just very difficult to drive still. If we had a nicer car to drive or one that was just a bit easier or had a bigger working range, then I think we can take another big step forward.

“Plenty of things to work on and I think we have more things coming, so I don’t want to get too ahead of ourselves. I think this has been our best race of the year so I will make sure I’ll let everyone in the team know that.

“But just keep our heads down and keep cool before next weekend.”

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