Wednesday, May 22, 2024

Norris Still Adapting Driving Style to Suit Upgraded McLaren Despite Improved Pace

Lando Norris says that whilst the new upgraded MCL60 has brought him into contention for big points, it still does not suit his driving style and remains something he has to adapt to.

The McLaren F1 Team began the 2023 FIA Formula 1 World Championship season on the back foot and with struggles just to break into the top ten, but that all changed when updates were brought to the car for the Austrian Grand Prix weekend.

Norris was immediately on the pace and secured a fourth-place finish at the Red Bull Ring, and he followed that up by taking second place in both the British and Hungarian Grand Prix.

However, he and team-mate Oscar Piastri are both saying the same thing about the car, feeling it does not play to either of their strengths.

“It’s not just my liking, it’s also Oscar’s because we have pretty similar comments,” Norris is quoted as saying by Motorsport.com.  “Same as last year, even when Daniel [Ricciardo] was driving, we had a lot of similar comments, every day, every weekend.

“It’s difficult to describe. You have to drive it quite one way. But it’s also a way that I don’t want to drive, or like to drive.

“I don’t like to drive the car the way that I have to drive it now. I feel like it isn’t to my strengths at all.

“I want to be able to carry minimum speed and to ‘U’ a corner. And the last thing I can do in the world now is ‘U’ a corner. I have to ‘V’ the corner more than ever, and I’ve never been the biggest fan of doing that. And I don’t like it that much.”

Strength of MCL60 is Under Braking

Norris says the car’s main strength is under breaking, but he acknowledges there is work to be done to make it competitive around corners and in a straight line.

“Basically, the car only likes to go in a straight line,” Norris added. “I mean, it doesn’t even go very quick in a straight line either!

“But we’re very good under braking, in straight line braking, which is why we were so quick in the wet at times. I wouldn’t say we’re quick in the wet as a general note, we’re quick in the wet when braking is a big key, like in Monaco. It builds tyre temperature, builds confidence.

“That’s when we’re quick, but we’re not actually quick in the corners when it’s wet. So there’s certain things which allow us to be competitive.  But it’s just to be able to have scope to do different lines, and drive in different ways.

“If the wind changes, if conditions change, different fuel loads, tyre degradation, we still always have to drive in one specific way.  And it’s not a way that I currently like, it’s one that I’ve had to adapt to.

“I still have to adapt a lot as a driver, and it’s far away from the car that I want to be able to drive.”

McLaren one the ‘slowest cars’ in the Slow Speed Corners

Norris says the slow corners are a weakness for McLaren at this stage, but he believes that this is a widespread problem not restricted to the Woking-based team even though he feels they are one of the slowest of them all.

“I don’t think it’s specifically [us], because a lot of comments I know that other people have are the same in a way,” Norris said.  “But we’re one of the slowest cars in the slow speed corners, and it’s also for these reasons, it’s just they’re not quite as bad.

“It’s just an area that’s been bad for us over the last five years that we’ve not really tackled that well. And at no point have we gone, ‘Wow, the slow speed’s strong, now let’s work on the high speed.’

“It’s always been good in high speed, poor in slow speed. But as a general point with these tyres, just how you have to drive them, it’s very difficult to combine. They only like to go almost in a straight line at any point, they don’t like to corner.

“So you kind of have to make the car a little bit around this, but the better you make the car, the less stress you can put on the tyres and things like that.

“I guess it’s aerodynamics, we still have a focus of it. But at the same time it’s a handling characteristic, which I would say is not all to do with aerodynamics. Even though aerodynamics is the easiest to just add load to, and it’s an easy way of just bringing absolute performance.

“I think even if we say we had the same load as a Red Bull in slow speed, I don’t think we have the right balance of car in slow speed, which I think is also a limitation for us.

“I don’t think it’s just about looking at aerodynamically how we perform, but also mechanically and tying everything together and coming up with little tricks and things that some other teams have, to accelerate low speed performance.”

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