Lando Norris stood out for McLaren in Friday practice, going third and second-quickest in Free Practice 1 and 2 respectively. The car looked surprisingly competitive during the race simulations as well.
Norris, however, was not as optimistic, pouring cold water on theories about McLaren making a substantial jump from last year. In fact, the British driver feels the car isn’t entirely there for him yet.
“I’m a bit surprised by today, and I think it’s more that we just showed more pace than the others,” said Lando Norris during a press conference. “It’s as simple as that. We will see the obvious four cars at the front tomorrow, I’m guessing. But you never know. We could be surprised. The car didn’t feel that good today. I don’t have the confidence that I want, especially in the medium and high-speed corners. So corners like Turn 6, Turn 7. I made a mistake on my first lap and I had to abort because I turned in and just completely lost the rear. My confidence in the car isn’t where I want it to be. It isn’t where we had it last year, but there are also improvements in other places compared to last year. So it’s not necessarily that everything has to be better. There are just areas to work on.”
Lando Norris and McLaren leading the midfield?
One of the key things that did emerge from the pre-season test was how good McLaren looked on track. The car seems to be a clear step forward compared to the Aston Martin or Alpine, both of which have looked like a handful to drive and neither car has been able to run at Lando Norris’ pace.
There are signs that McLaren might just be leading the midfield pack at the moment, with Lando Norris at the forefront while Daniel Ricciardo gets used to life at his new team. While practice times don’t always tell the whole story, early indications do point toward a more competitive season ahead for McLaren.