McLaren’s Lando Norris has reflected on his 2022 season and his future targets with McLaren. Despite his team’s struggles, it has been another strong year so far for the British driver.
Norris and McLaren endured a torrid pre-season, the MCL36 suffering from excessive brake overheating. Combined with Daniel Ricciardo catching Covid-19 during the Bahrain test, Norris was left to do all testing. This left McLaren on the back foot as the season began.
At the Bahrain Grand Prix, an interim fix severely compromised the MCL36, finishing P14 and P15 out of 17 finishers. The MCL36 has since shown improvements in speed since the long-term fix was applied. The car, however, is not as competitive as its 2021 predecessor, comfortably the third fastest car on the grid.
As the first half of 2022 draws to a close, McLaren is locked in an intense battle with Alpine for P4 in the Constructors Championship. Alpine has moved ahead of the Woking marque in the last two races.
Despite the challenges, Norris is pleased with the progress of the team. Calling out his Imola podium as a highlight of the first half of the season. Speaking to Formula1.com, Norris acknowledges McLaren has work to do to catch the top teams:
For myself and my driving and so on, I’m happy,” Norris said. “Some good highlights, I don’t know how I got a podium in Imola, it just blows my mind. With the car that we have that’s quite some achievement so still makes me smile now, but then there are still a lot of positives.
It’s just now we have a lot of work to do. The gap to the guys ahead is still massive and I guess yes, it’s close on Saturday, but everyone is closer on Saturday, even last place is a lot closer. It’s just the spread on Sunday is bigger than what it has been in past, and we’ve got to work on that.”
Norris intends to use the break to reset for the second half of the season. He says he is “happy” with McLaren’s start to the season. The British driver also called out the turnaround in performance, after the nadir at the start of the year:
“I’ll enjoy my break first and then we will work on it and see what we can do for next time. I think reasonable start to the season, so I’m happy with it.”
“I think the main thing is that of course we just didn’t come into the season as strong as we needed to,” said Norris. “How we’ve done since then, since the first the race I think has been very good and strong. Considering we are still fighting for fourth in the constructors against a team which has been a lot more competitive since day one shows how good of a job we’ve done in many other areas.”
McLaren has indeed performed well in races despite their challenges. Strong reliability and race strategy calls have seen Norris able to score good points on race day. The top three teams remain out of reach for now, but Norris is committed to the ambitious target of reducing the gap through working with the Woking marque:
“Our consistency, reliability in many ways, pit stops, strategy, a lot of things have been very strong. Just we didn’t start as well as what we wanted but I think we’ve made some good progress since then, so as long as we continue to do that after the break then I’ll be happy.
“But it’s just been tough you know – you always want to fight for more and fight for higher positions and the gap we have to the top three teams is still a big one, so we just need to focus on closing that down.”