McLaren pace a surprise to confidence-hit Norris

Lando Norris has denied trying to downplay expectations at McLaren after declaring himself short on confidence with the car despite ending Friday practice in Bahrain second fastest.

Norris fell just 0.095secs short of matching Max Verstappen‘s session-topping time of minute 30.847secs and, despite being surprised by the pace of the MCL35M, the Briton maintains work is needed before he will feel at his best.

“I’m a bit surprised but I think it’s more we just showed more pace than the others, it’s as simple as that,” said Norris.

“I think we will see the obvious four cars at the front tomorrow I’m guessing. You never know, we could be a surprise.

“But the car didn’t feel that good so I guess it’s a bit promising that if we can improve those things into tomorrow then we can be even better.

“Whether we can improve on them is the question because they are similar things to what we have been working on.”

Asked where he was struggling, under traction or stability, Norris answered: “Both. Everyone’s going to think I’m just saying it but a bit of both.

“I don’t have the confidence that I want, especially in the medium and higher-speed corners, so corners like six and seven.”

But with the scope to improve, Norris concluded: “We will see if we can come up with anything for tomorrow so [I am] quietly confident I guess.

“Although we looked good, I don’t want to get too confident because I don’t think it’s where we are going to be tomorrow.”

New team-mate Daniel Ricciardo, meanwhile, concluded his first Friday with McLaren sixth quickest but felt he had been unable to deliver any “awesome” laps.

“There are still some things to perfect,” said Ricciardo. “Did I think that I put in some awesome laps today? Not yet awesome.”

He added: “The encouraging thing is we are second and sixth and I think we both are relatively unhappy, not to be too pessimistic.

“I don’t think we are yet saying we are 100 per cent into the car and we are comfortable and it is doing everything we want.

“We still have some work to do but saying that, we are still at the pointy end, I guess that is encouraging.”

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