Norris on McLaren’s Sunday in Spain: “We’re slow, we have been all year — nothing else to say”

Spread the love

McLaren’s disappointing start to 2023 continued as Lando Norris and Oscar Piastri failed to score any points at the Spanish Grand Prix on Sunday.

Qualifying was a nice surprise for the Woking-based team as the Brit and Aussie ended up P3 and P10 on the grid.

However, the brutal reality of their performance returned on Sunday. Lap 1 contact with Lewis Hamilton at turn 2 forced Norris to pit for a front wing change.

Nonetheless, it’s unlikely to have cost him anything major in terms of points as he finished a lowly P17 in the end.

Norris pulled no punches about McLaren’s lack of performance on Sunday.

“Yeah, the pace was as expected today, which was bad. I don’t think we expected anything else, really. Our aim was to maybe finish in the points, but we weren’t expecting anything like yesterday.

“We’re slow, we have been all year. I don’t know, there’s nothing else to say.”

Photo credit: McLaren Racing

Rain on Saturday morning and cool conditions for qualifying meant getting temperature into the tyres was more difficult compared to normal.

In the wet conditions in Monaco, Norris and Piastri could switch on the inters very quickly and they were rapid. The same happened on Saturday.

If the Australian had not made a mistake on his last Q3 attempt, both McLarens could easily have been in the top 6.

The British driver explained that the strong performance was due to circumstances rather than a sudden improvement from the MCL60.

“Yesterday the cars weren’t any different, right, and just yesterday was a special day. Some good teams struggled a lot, and some of the worse teams did a better job, so it was just an odd day, people making a lot of mistakes, and we just capitalised on that.

“Apart from that, we’ve been off the pace all season, struggling to finish in the points in half the races. And today was just that again. There was the expectation that we would have had a very difficult day today.

“We’re clearly nowhere near as quick as Alpine, Aston or all of these top-five, top-six teams, so there’s no point in thinking ‘we’re going to finish in the points’ because we’re just not quick enough.”

It was a more normal race for Oscar Piastri as he avoided any kind of contact on the first lap. Nonetheless, he did lose two spots on the opening lap, something which the man from Melbourne criticised himself for.

Ultimately like his teammate, it was a lack of pace that meant he crossed the line in a distant P13. He was the highest placed runner to be lapped.

“Yeah, it was just a long afternoon. I just didn’t have the pace to really do anything.

“Pretty poor first lap for myself as well, which didn’t help things, but I don’t think we really had the pace to stay in the points anyways.

“We’ll have a look at why we struggled so much today compared to yesterday. I think we’ve got some good ideas already. But yeah, disappointing afternoon.”

Piastri very much agreed with Norris’ assessment that Saturday in Spain was a one-off because of the conditions and the fact they can get the tyres in an operating window quicker than most other teams.

“I think yesterday was obviously not expected. I don’t think we’re in normal circumstances able to put the car that high up on the grid.

“Also, today [Sunday] was maybe a bit more back to reality. Probably a more difficult day than what we would have hoped, even considering.

“We seem to switch on the tyres very well when it’s cold, when it’s difficult conditions. Monaco was the same story as yesterday on the inters. So I need to try and work on that with the team, I think, and see what we can do to make our lives easier on Sundays.”

Along with a general lack of pace from the MCL60, the young Aussie driver believes tyre degradation was the biggest limitation on Sunday compared to their rivals.

“Yes, I think so. I don’t have that many answers at the moment. But others seem to just be able to push more when they wanted to and find an extra gear, and we were kind of flat after that. So I think something to do with that.”

Photo credit: McLaren Racing