Lando Norris believes Mercedes-Benz’s engine package will suit the McLaren F1 Team better in 2021 after the Woking-based squad made the switch away from Renault power.
McLaren made the decision to move away from Renault for 2021 after three years to return to the engine supplier they ran between 1995 and 2014. In between, they ran an ill-fated spell with Honda between 2015 and 2017.
McLaren are the fourth team to be running with Mercedes engines in 2021, joining Aston Martin Cognizant Formula One Team, Williams Racing and the works Mercedes-AMG Petronas Formula One Team.
Norris, who will be team-mates with Daniel Ricciardo in 2021 after Carlos Sainz Jr. made the move to Scuderia Ferrari, says the ‘all round’ package of the Mercedes power unit should benefit McLaren, with more power and better reliability as they bid to improve on their third place in the Constructors’ Championship from last year.
“I think all round, it’s a better package,” said Norris to Motorsport.com. “It’s more power. Touch wood, it’s more reliability. It’s a slightly better-fitting package, so as just a whole, there’s a lot of positives about it.
“I’m not into everything, so I’m sure there are maybe some negatives there, and we have a good relationship with Renault, so things are very smooth now and we know them, and there’s going to be a lot of new things.
“I’m sure there’s going to be some things we have to understand and we’re not going to be quite as natural with with just the mechanics and the engineers and how they understand everything. Of course they’ll do a great job in that transition in trying to understand it.
“There’s going to be some things which are a bit trickier, but as a package, it should be much better, and that gives us good confidence it will take us that little bit further towards the top.”
The majority of the MCL35 will carry over to the 2021 MCL35M, mainly down to McLaren being forced to give up its two development tokens due to the switch from Renault to Mercedes power.
Norris says he, at times, struggled with understanding the 2020 machine, but the continuality into 2021 should enable them to unlock more of its potential.
“With the tricky car that we had and the struggles and the positives and negatives, there’s still many things we need to work on through,” added Norris. “I guess the good thing with having bad things with the car or negatives is that you can try and work on them and try and turn them into positives, and it will make the car quicker. That’s a good thing.
“It’s not like we have an amazing car which is slow, and we don’t know how to work on it. I think we know the direction we need to work in. It’s just very difficult to unlock it and find those things.
“That’s probably why you see in the last two or three years, teams have been very similar – I guess apart from Ferrari. Although you’re spending however much money, it’s just not easy for engineers to figure out these exact things which can be millimetres of difference with all these different parts.
“We’re working very closely with the factory and the aero department and things like that, and everyone in the factory to continue working hard and developing the car into next year.”