Norris: McLaren needs ‘a little more’ to fight Mercedes, Alfa Romeo

Lando Norris believes McLaren needs “a little bit more” to be able to fight with Mercedes and Alfa Romeo at the front of the Formula 1 midfield.

Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes W13, Fernando Alonso, Alpine A522, Lando Norris, McLaren MCL36, Daniel Ricciardo, McLaren MCL36

McLaren has seen its form fluctuate in the early part of the 2022 season, going from failing to compete for points in Bahrain to scoring a podium through Norris at Imola.

Last weekend’s Miami Grand Prix saw Norris retire after a collision with AlphaTauri’s Pierre Gasly, while team-mate Daniel Ricciardo could only finish 13th after struggling on the hard compound tyre.

Norris said after the race that McLaren “didn’t lose out on too much” with the retirement, believing he would not have finished any higher than eighth given the pace of the Mercedes cars and Alfa Romeo’s Valtteri Bottas.

Next weekend’s Spanish Grand Prix at the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya will see McLaren return to the track where it competitive showing in pre-season testing back in February.

Norris felt “a bit more hopeful” for how McLaren would perform in Barcelona, but said it needed to find some more performance if it wanted to compete with Mercedes and Alfa Romeo.

“Hopefully we can just make some more improvements with the car,” Norris said.

“It's tough to know exactly what we're going to do from this weekend. We’re behind Mercedes. We're behind Alfa Romeo. But we're in a good fight with Alpine and AlphaTauri. I think that's quite simple.

Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes W13, Lando Norris, McLaren MCL36, Yuki Tsunoda, AlphaTauri AT03

Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes W13, Lando Norris, McLaren MCL36, Yuki Tsunoda, AlphaTauri AT03

Photo by: Steve Etherington / Motorsport Images

“Haas are there or thereabouts with us as well. So it's close. I think that puts us around fifth, fifth-fastest or sixth or something.

“We have decent pace. We just need a little bit more to be able to, say take the fight to the Mercedes and the guys ahead. And then we can be happy if we do that.”

The performance of the teams in F1’s midfield has swung quite a lot through the early part of the season under the new regulations, varying from track to track.

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McLaren F1 boss Andreas Seidl felt all teams were still trying to figure out the core weaknesses of their new cars, meaning the track-specific conditions would often lead to bigger shifts in performance.

“It’s still early in the season with these new cars,” Seidl said.

“Everybody is still working on the weaknesses of their cars, and I think we have seen now when we look at these first races that in conditions like here [in Miami], tracks like here, tracks like Bahrain, we definitely struggled more than at other tracks like Melbourne and Imola.

“We know about these weaknesses. That’s why we work hard back home to address these weaknesses. That’s what we have to focus on.”

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