Lando Norris believes McLaren’s goal to close the gap to Mercedes will be harder than ensuring it stays ahead of Ferrari during the 2021 Formula 1 season.
After finishing third in the 2020 constructors’ championship and having switched from Renault to Mercedes engines over the winter, McLaren has made it clear that its main target for the upcoming season is to further reduce the deficit to the reigning world champions.
Mercedes won 13 of the 17 races last season on its way to clinching both world championship titles for the seventh successive time, while McLaren claimed two podium finishes as it broke into F1’s top three for the first time since 2012.
McLaren’s achievement was made slightly easier due to Ferrari’s struggles amid the Scuderia’s worst F1 campaign in four decades as the Italian outfit slumped to sixth in the standings. But Ferrari is hopeful that an all-new power unit can help lift it back into the top three this year.
Asked whether he feels it will be harder to close the gap to the teams ahead or keep Ferrari behind this year, Norris said: “For sure to close the gap to the guys ahead, that’s always the more difficult bit.
“It’s not like Ferrari are a miles better team. We have confidence in ourselves, we’re still an extremely good team, who have been on the fightback the last few years, making good improvements.
“We showed that last year more than ever I don’t think we can underestimate what we have been able to do in the past and what we can do in the future. And that doesn’t mean we always have to be looking over our backs at what other people can do.
“We can still just look forward to knowing we are an extremely good team, extremely talented people here at McLaren. We can fight our own way back to the front, racing Mercedes and racing Red Bull. That’s where our eyes are set at the moment.
“It’s what we are working towards and what we have been closing in on over the past few years, but it takes a lot of hard work and time. That’s something that is continuing this year – that’s our aim.
“But Ferrari are Ferrari, they are extremely competitive and have shown that in the whole period they have been in F1.
“There will be races where they are quicker than us, and hopefully more races when they are slower than us. But it’s not just them. It’s every competitor on the grid.”
Norris has a new teammate with Daniel Ricciardo leaving Renault to join McLaren for the upcoming 2021 F1 season, which gets underway on 28 March in Bahrain.
Norris and Ricciardo completed the first shake down of McLaren’s MCL35M at Silverstone on Tuesday, a day after becoming the first team to launch its 2021 car.
The pair are back in action behind the wheel of the Mercedes-powered McLaren today as the Woking squad conducts a second filming day at the British Grand Prix venue.