Lando Norris believes the MCL35 is a more consistent car to drive compared to its 2019 predecessor, but there are still some weaknesses that mean they are not as fast as they would like to be.
The McLaren F1 Team driver is heading into his second season in Formula 1 after debuting last year, and only just missed out on the top ten in championship, losing out to Racing Point F1 Team’s Sergio Pérez in the final race of the season in Abu Dhabi when the Mexican made a late pass for seventh position.
Norris says that McLaren are a long way short with their MCL35 compared to the W11 offering from the Mercedes AMG Petronas Formula One Team, which he feels is the car to beat in all areas in 2020. However, he can go into the season knowing he can push more to the limit than he could have done with the MCL34.
“I’m happy with [some] areas and how it’s improved compared to last year in some areas,” Norris is quoted as saying by Motorsport.com. “Some areas it’s not moved on as much as what I would have liked.
“Areas it’s not good at compared to Mercedes – [they] are the fastest – probably everything. I don’t think there’s any area where we’re as competitive as Mercedes. [If I could] be harsh, I could say it’s not good enough in any area, but in terms of progress, which is not easy to do in Formula 1, I’m happy. Obviously I’m not going to say the areas.
“But yeah, [I mean] more in terms of consistency of car from one lap to another [it’s better], when the wind is not terrible, [so is] being able to push on the car in the long runs. The car is just a bit nicer to drive. It’s less on edge – less peaky, let’s say. It’s a bit more stable and consistent.
“I’m still pushing – the limit still moves up, and I’m driving on that limit so the car is still a lot of sliding and moving around a so on. But the main thing is, and an easy way to say, it’s just more consistent and nicer to drive.”
Norris ‘More Confident’ Heading to Australia than in 2020
Speaking further to Motorsport.com, Norris says he feels in a much better position in 2020 heading into the start of the season than he felt twelve months ago, but there are definitely some areas to work on to improve the performance of the MCL35 if McLaren want to be a competitive entity this season.
“I’m very happy with things and the progress we’ve made since [the first test],” said Norris. “Because of all the things like the wind, it’s been very hard to get a good feeling of what the car is like.
“But I’m happy – I think we have an understanding at least of what the car is good at and what it’s not good at. And those areas that we have to work I think it’s very clear.
“So it’s not easy and clear just to [say] how different those things [are] going to Australia. But we know those areas, which is a good thing – it’s not like how or why. I think we understand that.
“As a driver, and comparing myself to this time last year, I’m a lot more confident and I feel a lot better. And that’s a good thing – it makes me feel [like] I’m in a much better position because of that going to Australia.”