Lando Norris believes McLaren can fight Mercedes and Red Bull if they do everything right, and team boss Andreas Seidl says they did not expect to be so competitive in the last race in Imola. McLaren was the third strongest team in the first two races of the new season, and Norris finished fourth in Bahrain while he was third in Imola and achieved the second podium in his F1 career.
Norris almost shocked Mercedes and Red Bull in the qualifiers with the best first two sectors, but due to the wide passage of Piratella, the fastest lap with which he would start third behind Hamilton and Perez was annulled.
In the race, Norris held second place behind Verstappen but ultimately failed to defend against a rushing Hamilton who managed to recover from an earlier mistake in the Tosa corner. “The weekend didn’t start well, but we learned a lot about the car because this is a new track,” Norris said.
"We were able to apply what we learned to a car that we were constantly improving and that got a lot better on Saturday." "We have shown that if we do everything right and if we understand the car a little better, we can be there.
And then we can fight Mercedes and Red Bull. ” "That's nice to know, that's a good thing for us."
Team boss Andreas Seidl says it is still too early to get a full picture of McLaren’s competitiveness, but that he is extremely pleased with the result in Imola which is better than expected.
“It’s still too early to assess, we need more different tracks with different characteristics, weather conditions, and tire components to see where we are,” Seidl said. "And at the beginning of the season, everyone brings improvements to their cars.
It can also change the balance of power. ” "We have a very close fight with Ferrari, AlphaTauri, and some other teams." "We have already said that - we want to reduce the gap behind the cars in front of us, step by step.
How can we be close to them whenever we have the chance. ” "It's definitely encouraging to see that we've progressed on the tracks that were giving us problems last year and that we've been so close to Mercedes and Red Bull in at least one lap."
Norris with his annulled lap would be just 0.043 seconds behind Hamilton in qualifying on a track where they were 1.2 seconds behind pole position last year. "It surprised us a little bit," admits Seidl. "I think we had slightly different expectations."
"I think we have to wait and see. The important thing is that we have taken another step forward. Because that is a precondition for us to be at the top again in the future. ”