Norris: McLaren has made low downforce progress despite Monza F1 struggles

Lando Norris believes that his McLaren Formula 1 team has made progress on its low downforce form despite a difficult Italian Grand Prix weekend relative to rivals.

Lando Norris, McLaren MCL60

The Belgian GP exposed the weakness of the MCL60 at high-speed tracks, and Norris found himself unable to defend in the race on his way to seventh place.

At Monza, Norris qualified ninth and finished eighth having been stuck behind the Williams of Alex Albon for most of the race.

Although the final outcome was actually a place lower than at Spa, Norris felt that the car was more competitive overall, and that he could at least fight with other drivers.

Asked by Autosport if the result represented damage limitation, Norris said: “It was P8, some points. And maybe we were hoping for a touch more. But also at times we were expecting not to even be in the points. So I'm happy with it.

“I think it was damage limitation. At the same time, good to see the progress we made on a low downforce circuit. I know there wasn't a lot, and a bit of it is just things you have from last year, and trying to optimise them for here.

“But we made some good improvements, and it was a raceable car, which is a good step forward. And there's only one more low downforce track this season [Las Vegas].”

Alex Albon, Williams Racing

Alex Albon, Williams Racing

Photo by: Williams

Norris spent a significant portion of the race studying the rear wing of Albon's Williams as the Thai/British driver made use of his car's above-average straightline speed to defend. 

The McLaren driver added: “I knew it [the rear wing] before already very well. I've been in this position a lot over the last few years! Credit to Alex, he drove a very good race. He didn't make any mistakes, which is annoying.

“I tried, we had good battles. I tried quite a bit. But they were too quick for us in the straights. And even with DRS, I catch maybe 2-3kph more than what he's doing.

“[It's] tough, because of the Williams maybe not allowing us to get as many points as we I think could have achieved. But he drove a good race, and limited what we could do. The pace was good. But the overtaking was too difficult.”

Regarding an incident at Turn 1 after which he blamed Albon for pushing him off, he said: “I was alongside. I think he knew I was there. So he definitely got off the brakes and sent it in a bit harder than he normally did.

“And yeah, if I tried to say on the inside for Turn 2, then there would have been a crash, and we probably would have done a Max [Verstappen] and Lewis [Hamilton]. So yeah, I think it was fair, we race fair.

“He did as well. Of course, you have to be elbows out sometimes. And he did that. He did a good race.”

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Norris also downplayed the clash with team-mate Oscar Piastri at the same corner from which both drivers emerged unscathed.

“I guess he was on cold tyres or something, so he just had a bit of understeer," he added.

"I left enough of a gap, I think, but just impossible to see, it was very difficult to see in the mirror. Hard and cold tyres is not a nice combination, and I guess he just ran into my rear tyre.

“I think we respect each other. We give each other space. Unfortunate, but nothing happened. So all OK.”

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