Lando Norris says he’s excited to see the first phase of the McLaren Formula 1 team’s upgrade program finally hit the track in Austria this weekend.
Norris acknowledged that the team has had to be patient after making some changes so far this year while waiting for a major package to come through the system, with items arriving in stages over the next three races.
After deciding on a change of philosophy, the team made its first move to Azerbaijan back in April, but it was never expected that it would provide a significant improvement in lap time, while hopes were high for the new package.
“Of course, I’m looking forward to anything new,” Norris said. And of course, there was a lot of work that was done as well. I think we’ve been very patient with what we’ve got.
“We were throwing away a lot of other things at the same time. We haven’t brought a lot of lap time on the table since the start of the year. Of course, we had new ground in Baku, but it was for philosophy, not sheer performance.
“But putting it all together, and putting in the work we were doing — I think we were doing a good job with what we had, and we took advantage of the opportunities we had. Maybe one or two we missed, but that’s it.”
Regarding the potential benefits, he added: “Of course, things are not yet on the right track. I’m sure it will be a step forward. But how much is the question. So I don’t want to over-excite all this, as I never have!”
“But yeah, there’s a lot of work being done. So I’m excited to see all this kind of come out, and see what we can do.”
Lando Norris, McLaren in the drivers’ parade
Photo by: Andy Hone / Motorsports Pictures
Meanwhile, Oscar Piastri hopes the latest package will lift the team out of midfield and allow them to take on the top four contenders regularly.
“That’s the plan, obviously,” said the Aussie. “Looking forward to the upgrades coming soon. Hopefully they will be faster. That is the plan, of course.
“But I think at the moment we’re in our good days, maybe at the top of the midfield, just, so we need to get out of the midfield and start focusing on the top four teams. So yeah, I’m looking forward to that.”
Piastri also admitted that he is looking forward to running on the traditional tracks he knows so well having done much of his rookie apprenticeship so far on temporary streets and venues, including many he has not seen in F2 or in testing.
“The next four circuits are all circuits I’ve been to more than once, too,” he said. “So that would be nice. In saying that Barcelona was a similar story, our pace wasn’t very good.
“So it’s not a given that it will be better for me. Of course, it’s a relief to go into the weekend, to know these episodes a little better, but a similar answer to what I said in Barcelona, everyone can hit the limit faster and be right.”
Regarding this weekend’s sprint format, which only gives teams FP1 to hone their cars, he said: “Yeah, it’s going to be tough. I think at least Austria is a circuit we’ve all been through a lot, everyone in the ground, including the rookies.
“So that should make things a little bit easier because they also have fewer angles and the walls are a little further out as well.
“But yeah, it’s never easy when you only get one practice session. We say that’s what I grew up with in the Novice, F3 and F2 classes. So it still feels unnatural to me.”