Lando Norris has admitted his new McLaren is not quite the improvement on the 2019 Formula 1 car he’d hoped it to be.
Completing his final laps of testing on Thursday, Norris revealed that while he can see the progress the team has made, he isn’t expecting the sort of leap in performance that would make the MCL35 a match for last year’s Mercedes W10.
“I would not say that we are much faster,” he told reporters in Barcelona. “I would say that no one is as fast as last year’s Mercedes except Mercedes itself. We are not even as fast as Mercedes has been for the past two years.”
While some may argue that comparing a midfield car to the preceding year’s championship-winner is a particularly high standard, it’s the sort of bar Norris knows his team must eventually clear if they want to make good on their title aspirations
“I’m happy with how it’s improved compared to last year in some areas,” he said. “In some areas it’s not moved on as much as what I would have liked.
” Compared to the Mercedes, we are certainly not as good in any area as they are. But the consistency has improved and it is better to push on long runs.”
Asked to elaborate on where the McLaren needs to improve, Norris kept his cards close to the vest.
“Of course I’m not going to say which areas. More in terms of consistency of car from one to another, when the wind’s not terrible,” said Norris, referring to the gusty conditions on Thursday afternoon.
“Areas it’s not good at, comparing to Mercedes who are fastest, probably everything. I don’t think there’s any area where we’re as competitive as Mercedes. So if I want to be that harsh I can say it’s not good enough in any area”
However, Norris maintained that the continued gap to the top did not stop him from being pleased with move forwards the team had made.
“In terms of progress made, which is not easy to do in Formula 1, I’m happy,” Norris maintained.
“Being able to push on the car in the long runs, the car’s just been nicer to drive. It’s less on edge, less peaky, let’s say.
“It’s a bit more stable and consistent through all the laps you do so you’re still pushing and the limit still moves up and you’re driving on that limit so the car’s still going to be sliding and moving around and so on. But the the main thing is an easy way to say it’s just more consistent and nicer to drive.”