July 23, 2024

Although Lando Norris expressed optimism about McLaren’s performance at Suzuka, he believes the team is still hindered by enduring problems.

Despite a strong practice day at the Japanese Grand Prix, Lando Norris has disclosed that he is searching for a “magic bullet” that could reduce McLaren’s “losses.”

The MCL38 package has a long-standing weakness in slow-speed corners, with the hairpin and final chicane being the team’s main areas of concern, despite being predicted to perform well at the fast Suzuka track.

The two Friday sessions, which were marred by a red flag for Logan Sargeant’s crash in FP1 and a rain-affected second session where F1 champion Max Verstappen chose not to leave the Red Bull garage, saw Norris finish 10th and sixth.

Oscar Piastri, a teammate who finished first and eighth in the two 60-minute sessions, shares Norris and team manager Andrea Stella’s optimism regarding the Woking team’s prospects. But the Britishman has acknowledged that the vehicle is still “struggling in certain areas.”

“The red flag came out on my best lap, so it was better than it looked, and the car felt reasonable,” Norris said. “Then, on the second lap, the tyres dropped off a lot.”

“We’re in a good spot, probably in the third fastest spot, and Mercedes and Aston Martin are right behind us, but Ferrari and Red Bull are too far ahead.

“I was employing a lower [configuration] of downforce than Oscar, and it didn’t seem to work quite as well.

“We’re still operating within the anticipated window and where we believe it should be, but there are still challenges in some areas. The goal is to minimize our losses in those areas, and if we succeed in doing so, we should be able to have a successful day.”

But Norris has exposed the challenges facing McLaren as it looks to close the gap on its leaders, Red Bull and Ferrari.

Six months ago, Norris finished second behind Verstappen and ahead of Piastri in the race at Suzuka, following McLaren’s incredible qualifying and race performance.

In the future, Norris believes that McLaren’s current problems are not immediately apparent, which forces the team to explore ideas—often in vain.

“Every track is different, with the tyres and conditions, so there is always something more to try to find that magic bullet,” Norris said. “We work around everything, so you try as many things as you can.” “However, it’s clear that in low-speed corners, we simply lack downforce and a balanced vehicle.

“You can try to make up for it, but it is hard to catch up because it is trading things instead of just gaining, and there is always a cycle of ‘Maybe this or that is better,’ but everything is the same.

“We are always trying hard to develop, and that’s what we’re trying to do,” the statement goes, “but sometimes you decide it’s best to leave it.”

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