Horner wary of McLaren’s ‘great progress’

Date published: October 1 2021 - Michelle Foster

Lando Norris against Sergio Perez. Netherlands September 2021.

With one race win on the board, and one near-miss, Christian Horner reckons McLaren could continue to take points off F1’s title rivals this season.

This year’s championship has been all about Max Verstappen versus Lewis Hamilton, at least at the front, but behind them throughout the first half of the season lurked Lando Norris.

The McLaren driver took three podiums in the first nine races of this season, two of which put him ahead of Hamilton in the race classification.

In the following six races McLaren took two podiums, the only team to score a 1-2 this season, as Daniel Ricciardo won in Monza ahead of Norris.

Although neither Verstappen nor Hamilton finished that race, both had been thwarted by a McLaren before their mid-race crash, struggling to pass.

It was shaping up to be a similar story at the Russian GP with Norris running in front of Hamilton and Ricciardo staying ahead of Verstappen.

A late rain shower changed that picture with Hamilton taking the win ahead of Verstappen, Ricciardo fourth and Norris P7.

“I think they’ve obviously made great progress this year, certain circuits they seem to perform well at and others that are more challenging for them,” Horner said.

“Lando Norris deserved to win the race (in Russia) but I’m sure there’ll be some circuits between now and the end of the year that they’ll fare well at.”

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Norris, however, doesn’t see it like that, fearing his lost Russian Grand Prix win may prove to be his only chance this season.

“We are miles behind them,” he said of McLaren’s form against Red Bull and Mercedes to Motorsport-Total.com.

“It’s difficult because we could have had the best result in Formula One and I could have won a race. In the end, I finished seventh.

“It’s especially hard because I feel like I’ve lost something and that breaks my heart – not because I’ve done anything stupid.”

But while Horner is keeping one eye on McLaren, he acknowledges that Mercedes and Hamilton are the main threat.

Hamilton is two points ahead of Verstappen in the Drivers’ Championship with Mercedes 33 in front of Red Bull.

 

“I don’t think there’s any circuits that stand out as strongly as Russia and Monza, but for sure Mercedes will be strong,” he said.

“They won in Turkey last year, they’ll be strong there. But then we start going to Austin where we should be there or thereabouts. Brazil, Mexico we’ve always been strong.

“We don’t know anything about Qatar, we don’t know anything about Jeddah, then Abu Dhabi, you could say it’s 50-50 in what’s left on the table in what favours slightly one more team than the other.”

 

PlanetF1 verdict