Norris plays down McLaren’s challenging start to 2023

The Woking-based outfit have struggled for pace in the opening races of 2023.

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Lando Norris has played down McLaren’s tricky start to 2023, while admitting that the team has been playing catch up across the first races of the season.

McLaren hasn’t enjoyed the easiest start to 2023 following a difficult pre-season test and pointless weekends in Bahrain and Saudi Arabia, which saw Norris and Oscar Piastri struggle for pace.

But in Australia and Azerbaijan, McLaren ended their pointless run with Norris and Piastri putting the team fifth in the constructors’ championship ahead of rivals Alpine and Haas.

‘‘I guess we were playing a little bit of catch-up from where we should have been,’’ said Norris to the media ahead of the Miami GP. ‘‘I think we have a good baseline to work from now.

‘‘We’ve not had a bad year. I know people keep saying we’ve had a bad year and such a terrible start, and I guess we have if we want to say we want to win races and so on.

‘‘We should have scored points in the first race of the season, could have scored them in the second.  I think we are just in that middle spot at the minute.

‘‘Everyone is there, or thereabouts so it’s just a close battle. One day we’ll look a bit better, and the next day we’ll look a little bit worse, but it’s enjoyable.’’

End of the points the best McLaren can do.

Although rain was forecast on race day, it seems unlikely McLaren and Norris will be able to fight for a top-six finish if conditions remain dry.

This is due to Ferrari, Aston Martin, and Mercedes all being separated by a tenth, ensuring all three teams, plus runaway championship leaders Red Bull lock out the top eight finishing positions.

‘‘I don’t expect too many more things,’’ said Norris. ‘‘The car is the same as last weekend, so maybe just trying to understand the new parts that we brought to Baku, which I think we have.

‘‘The rest is just trying to get a couple of points. We have four teams that are considerably ahead of where we are. 

‘‘Every now and then, we can maybe get close, but it comes to the race, and they are another league compared to us.

‘‘So we are kind of fighting for ninth and tenth at the minute, which doesn’t sound like a lot, but the small points will add up.’’

Ed Spencer
Ed Spencer
FIA accredited journalist
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