McLaren are gunning for Ferrari in the Formula 1 Constructors’ Championship after a double podium at the 2023 Qatar Grand Prix.
Max Verstappen won the race from Oscar Piastri, who himself led home Lando Norris by just over a second as the Woking outfit scored 33 points in Sunday’s race, on top of the 14 points from Sprint Saturday.
McLaren have shifted their focus away from Aston Martin and are looking to beat Ferrari to third place in the Constructors’ Championship, with Red Bull already crowned 2023 F1 champions and Mercedes looking strong in second position.
They now trail the Prancing Horse by 79 points with five rounds, and two sprint weekends – the United States GP hosted at the Circuit of the Americas and the Brazilian GP held at Interlagos – to go.
“I don’t think we’re overconfident,” Norris told the press. “We’re confident, I think we have to be, but we know there’s still going to be some races where we’re not going to be as strong.
“I think to shave 79 points off Ferrari in five races and a couple of sprints is a big challenge, but we will try. Hopefully we can do that.”
Across the Japanese and Qatar GPs, McLaren have brought home 80 points, taking 43 points out of the gap to Mercedes, 53 out of the deficit to Ferrari and a whopping 67 points from Aston Martin.
Mercedes can be a problem
Although quite a way off McLaren at the Suzuka International Racing Course, Mercedes had Lewis Hamilton finishing 30 seconds behind Norris, and appeared to show similar pace at the Losail International Circuit in Qatar.
In the Sprint Race, George Russell traded places in a battle for the lead with Oscar Piastri whilst Hamilton showed encouraging pace to move from 12th to fifth but the Silver Arrows were unable to make a serious impression Sunday’s race as the pair collided at the first corner.
The result left the seven-time world champion out of the race and his teammate dropped to last place although he did well to recover to a damage-limiting fourth place finish.
“We know Mercedes are very fast, probably almost as fast as we were in Qatar, they just keep making mistakes,” Norris added.
“So I’m sure that if they have a clean weekend they will make our lives a little bit more complicated, and that’s why I’m not so confident.”