Ted Kravitz issues clear McLaren warning after glum Lando Norris assessment

Jamie Woodhouse
McLaren driver Oscar Piastri ahead of a Mercedes during Bahrain testing.

McLaren's Oscar Piastri ahead of a Mercedes.

While Lando Norris gave a downbeat verdict on McLaren’s chances at the Bahrain F1 2024 season-opener, Sky F1 pit-lane reporter Ted Kravitz warns rival teams this is “not the McLaren that we will see for most of the season”.

With F1 2024 pre-season testing now in the books, we are just days away from the new campaign getting underway at the Bahrain International Circuit.

But it is safe to say that optimism was not exactly flowing over on Lando Norris’ side of the McLaren garage, the Brit moving to play down expectations of the team in a major way.

A poor McLaren start should not be source of comfort

Asked by media in Bahrain whether McLaren can contend for a podium in the first race of F1 2024, it was a clear “no” from Norris, who also felt last season’s dominant force Red Bull had “extended their gap on everyone”.

McLaren suffered an underwhelming start to 2023, their MCL60 far closer to the back this time last year in Bahrain than the front, though by mid-season, the challenger had become a regular podium challenger, claiming nine across the season as well as sprint victory in Qatar, courtesy of Oscar Piastri, thanks to a highly-successful string of upgrades.

And to that point, Kravitz warned that even if McLaren do start off the pace at the front once more, as Norris fears, then this launch spec MCL38 and position will not be here to stay throughout the season ahead.

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Put to Kravitz during a Sky Sports fan Q&A that McLaren’s main problem this season could be tyre degradation, based off the three-day Bahrain test, Kravitz replied: “Possibly, although a lot of the tyre issues they had on some of their long runs were similar to ones they’ve seen in Bahrain before.

“It is a very hard track on tyres and McLaren haven’t had the greatest levels of success around Bahrain.

“I think you may see them struggle early on, but it is an all-round better car than last year’s and addresses some of their lower speed handling issues.

“But it’s probably best to wait until the European season for their much promised upgrades to arrive onto the car. This is not the McLaren that we will see for most of the season.”

Norris secured a new multi-year McLaren contract ahead of the season, keeping with the team beyond 2025, while Piastri is contracted until the end of the 2026 campaign.

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