Lando Norris: Hungary “will be a good test” for updated MCL60

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Lando Norris admits slow speed corners are the Achilles heel of the MCL60 and breaks down the team’s long term development goals as McLaren aim to introduce their own wind tunnel to boost their development.

Photo credit: McLaren Racing

Speaking ahead of the Hungarian Grand Prix this weekend in Budapest, McLaren’s Lando Norris admits the Hungaroring will present a true test of McLaren’s performance improvements since the beginning of the season. This is due to the low speed corners characteristic of the circuit.

“I doubt it’s going to be as good as Silverstone…”

While recent races have seemed to indicate a substantial performance boost for McLaren, following their major upgrades introduced in Austria, Norris suggested the Red Bull Ring and Silverstone play more towards the strengths as the MCL60. Norris confessed that his car struggles mostly in lower speed corners, due to the cars characteristics.

“No,” Norris replied simply, when asked if a focused setup will alleviate their slow speed deficit. “No matter what the outlook of it is, we’re not very good in the slow speed. I guess we’re not terrible if you look at; if we fully focus on slow speed we’re not so bad. If you look at Monaco, we’re normally not too bad in Monaco.

“I guess when you have to start to make compromises there are much bigger wins for us by performing well in high speed than focussing so much on the low speed. I guess we’re not that bad here. If you look at last year, it was actually not a bad weekend for us, with a car that we struggled a lot with at the beginning of the season. So I still want to be hopeful, but I doubt it’s going to be as good as Silverstone because there’s no high speed.”

“There are still going to be some tracks that are bad for us..”

When pressed on the improvements McLaren have made since the beginning of the season, Norris said he believes this weekend is a good test of their overall performance, but notes there are still circuits later in the season where he believes the team will struggle.

“I would say so,” he replied when asked if the Hungaroring provides a good test for McLaren. “I don’t think it’s the true test. I think there are still going to be some tracks that are bad for us, I don’t think this is a bad track for us.

“Just because the tarmac we have here is a grippy tarmac, the corners are quite long here, which is not our strength, but even if you say slow speed, they’re not super slow speed. I think we’re going to have bigger tests of ‘how bad is it going to get’ in some other tracks that are going to be coming up.

“I think it will be a good test, mainly because there is no high speed. I guess maybe in turn 4 and turn 11. I don’t feel like there is the biggest differences between cars because it’s more of a medium speed corner than high speed, but it will be a better test of where we stand. I think the last two tracks have made us look better than where we stand over the longevity of the whole season.”

“It’s the first time we’ve been able to bring an upgrade that’s generally brought us a big step forward.”

Norris also looked at the greater plan for McLaren going forward, with the young British driver showing his enthusiasm for the progress McLaren are making and the path which they are taking. He notes the team’s latest upgrade in Austria is the largest upgrade the team have introduced during his time with the team.

“I do feel like we’re in a better position now with our understandings,” he said. “With the people we have, with our areas of focus. Like the upgrades we brought to Austria is the biggest upgrade McLaren have brought as a team in the past five years. In terms of having a car and trying to find improvements over the year, it’s the biggest improvement we’ve ever had in my experience of being with McLaren.

“It’s the first time we’ve been able to bring an upgrade that’s generally brought us a big step forward. I want to have more hope than what I’ve had over the past few years. But also what I know we’re doing at the minute, the wind tunnel coming along, the simulator coming along, the people we have coming and the structure we now have.

“I definitely believe we are in the strongest point to at least start the [2024] season off on the right foot, which we have not done yet. I’d say maybe we did a bit more in 2020, but this year we haven’t and we said that. Imagine we had started a bit more like we had in Austria at the beginning of the year, and then been able to take steps forward.

“That would be the world for us. So i’m a bit more hopeful for 2024 yeah.”