Lando Norris scored his first points of the season with sixth place at the Australian Formula 1 Grand Prix. With a total of eight points, the McLaren driver is now ahead of Ferrari ace Charles Leclerc in the world championship standings, which is why Norris is “happy for the team”.
“I feel like I did a good job today,” he says. “I stayed out of trouble, which was half the challenge, because I had to avoid getting hit by others and just saw that [die Leute] are a bit clumsy, I would say.”
“That seems to be one of the biggest challenges and apart from that I think the pace was really good today. Once I did the first lap and my pace was behind Yuki [Tsunoda] was quite strong, it gave me a bit of confidence, even on the first lap. And it’s been pretty good from there.”
Lando Norris: We’re missing 10 to 15 km/h
In Melbourne, McLaren’s Achilles heel was once again the top speed. The MCL60 generates too much drag, but Norris points out that even with the DRS open, the McLaren doesn’t gain as much time as the other cars, which is why it got stuck a few laps behind Nico Hulkenberg in the Haas.
“I was able to keep up with them, I was even able to overtake them, which was probably one of the biggest challenges we expected because our top speed is so bad,” he says. “But I passed Hulkenberg and had a good race with him. So there are definitely positives. I don’t think the DRS will help us either.”
“Yesterday [im Qualifying] it still shocked us how bad we are with the DRS when we open it. We’re gaining, I guess, a few km/h, but some of the other cars are gaining 10-15 km/h and that’s a whole different thing for us.”
Formula 1: McLaren not the slowest car in qualifying
The data from the technology company ‘PACETEQ’ only partially supports Norris’ statement, as McLaren already seems to have made progress compared to the first two races. In qualifying this time the McLaren wasn’t the slowest car on the straights with a top speed of 322 km/h, a deficit of only five km/h on leaders Red Bull.
In the race, McLaren even achieved the highest top speed of all drivers with Oscar Piastri. The Australian drove 325 km/h in one lap, faster than any other driver in the race. The top speed deficit at McLaren was particularly evident in Saudi Arabia, where the team was around 20 km/h behind the top.
Compared to qualifying, Norris was still able to make up seven places, which is partly due to a few failures at the top, but also because McLaren tends to perform better in the race, as Norris emphasizes: “Saturday is our great weakness at the moment, because above all having four DRS zones is not in our favor in any way,” he says.
“But I think we got it, and we’re working on making it better and more efficient and things like that. It’s going to be a while before we can improve that too much. We’re trying but it’s difficult when it’s so hard on Saturday that it makes life difficult for us on Sunday. But when you have a day like today, it pays off and shows that hard work pays off.”