‘Not anytime soon’ – Lando Norris’ blunt response to McLaren’s ‘bullish’ F1 2024 prediction

Michelle Foster
Lando Norris walks onto the grid

Lando Norris says McLaren can win this season "if" they can improve the car

Lando Norris has warned Andrea Stella that while he is right in saying McLaren can win races this season, it’s only “if” they improve the car.

The only team aside from Red Bull and Ferrari to record a podium result this season, McLaren find themselves third in the standings having pulled clear of Mercedes and Aston Martin, most notably in the races.

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It has team boss Stella bullishly predicting wins could be on the cards this season.

“Why not think about winning races this year?” he told the F1 Nation podcast after Japan.

“I don’t want to look arrogant, but I think this is within the numbers, within the facts, and definitely this is the mindset that everyone has at McLaren. We will work hard to make this happen.”

It was called “bullish” by podcast host Tom Clarkson.

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But while Norris wants to buy into his team boss’s dream, he admits McLaren still need to improve the MCL38 before they can take on Ferrari, never mind Red Bull.

“Not anytime soon, that’s for sure,” he said during Thursday’s driver press conference in Shanghai when asked about Stella’s win prediction.

“I think we can. Right place, right time, and if we improve the car as we need to.

“We’ve been the same place all season. We’ve been behind Red Bull, we’ve been behind Ferrari and we’ve been a bit of a step ahead of the other two teams [Mercedes and Aston Martin] come races.

“We know the issues, we know what we have to improve and if we can improve them I think, as Andrea said, I think we can win races and be competitive with these other two teams ahead of us.

“But that’s an if.

“We have to work hard to improve the car in some certain areas which have been a big challenge for us over the last many years – not just for years, but last many years.

“But if we can, then I’m confident we can have some good races.”

Shanghai circuit could highlight MCL38’s ‘biggest weakness’

However, he’s not so confident that this weekend’s Chinese Grand Prix will be one of those.

“Probably not as high as Suzuka. I think that’s our opinion,” he said of the team’s expectations for this weekend. “We’re still in a good position.

“I think we’ve been happy with how the season started. I think we’re in a good qualifying battle. With Aston, Mercedes it’s very close and even last weekend ahead of Ferrari, but I think the order is still clear.

“I think in racing we’ve done a good job. Not as good as Red Bull and Ferrari, but ahead of Aston and Mercedes, so I think we’re in a good spot.

“This wasn’t a great circuit for us in 2019. But many things have changed since then. So I’m so optimistic we can have a good weekend.”

He explained that he’s worried about Shanghai’s long corners highlighting his MCL38’s weaknesses.

“The long corners like Turn 1, this type of corner is just not good for us,” he said.

“We got some things to try and we’re constantly trying to improve these areas, but it’s an area we know is one of our biggest weaknesses.

“Maybe we can get away with it in qualifying but especially into the race it becomes a bigger problem for us.”

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