Lando Norris “hopes McLaren can be closer” to Alpine in Austria with updated MCL60

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McLaren have managed to bring one set of upgrades a week ahead of schedule for the Austrian Grand Prix. Lando Norris will be running the heavily revised MCL60 at this event, before Oscar Piastri also gets the opportunity at Silverstone next weekend.

The revisions include changes to the sidepods and bodywork, as well as a new floor appearing.

With two races taking place this weekend and the bonus of some of the updates arriving early, Norris is hoping that points could be possible on Saturday and Sunday.

“We weren’t meant to have any of this, really, for this weekend, it was all meant to come for Silverstone.

“The fact we got, say, some of it, not even all of it, is already going to be a good step forward, especially with it being a sprint race, there’s maybe some opportunity to get points if we can – if it’s enough of a step – two times. It’s why we pushed so much and the team were able to deliver on getting some bits here early.

“It’s the first upgrade that’s really meant to bring performance and make us go quicker. It’s been a difficult start and I’m hoping it will be the thing that allows us to score points more easily.

“[However] with new parts you always have to adjust the aerodynamic and mechanical balance.”

Austria is a circuit where drivers are on full throttle for almost 80% of the lap. The MCL60 has proven itself to be a very draggy car.

With three DRS zones and lots of long straights, Norris is hoping for better top speed this weekend following the updates.

“Our car is usually the slowest on the straights this year. The lack of top speed hits us hard.

“Something like that also forces you to make compromises. I hope that we’ll be faster on the straights this weekend.”

McLaren find themselves P6 in the Constructors’ Championship heading into this weekend’s Austrian GP. They trail 2022 rivals Alpine by 27 points.

Although McLaren and Norris both expect a step with this upgrade, the 6-time F1 podium finisher believes Alpine will still be too quick for them and suggests they’ve underperformed so far.

“I see them well ahead of the midfield. I doubt we can catch them yet.

“Alpine have a much better car than the results show. They’ve often got in their own way with mistakes or technical problems.

“For me, Alpine has a really good car. I hope we can be closer.”

Photo credit: McLaren Racing