After a poor weekend for McLaren in Miami, Lando Norris believes his team is behind Mercedes and Alfa Romeo in terms of pace.
Last weekend, Norris qualified eighth, six positions ahead of his teammate Daniel Ricciardo, who had a start-up issue before his second run in Q2, sabotaging his chances of setting a competitive lap towards the end of the session.
A poor stop dropped the 22-year-old out of the top 10, and McLaren’s difficulties worsened when Pierre Gasly re-joined the circuit after suffering damage as a result of a hit from Fernando Alonso, putting the Briton out of the race.
For the second time this season, the Woking squad walked away from a race with no points, and Ricciardo reiterated that their lack of performance was “track specific” after finishing P13 in the Miami race.
Mercedes’ aerodynamic modification allowed them to take advantage of the straights in Florida, and it also appeared to minimise the amount of “porpoising” that George Russell and Sir Lewis Hamilton were experiencing, as they finished fifth and sixth, respectively.
Norris, who was also beaten by Alfa Romeo’s Valtteri Bottas last weekend, confirms that both teams were faster than McLaren.
“I think we are behind Mercedes,” he said. “We are also behind Alfa Romeo but are well in the running with Alpine and AlphaTauri. Haas are somewhere in that region as well. So I think it’s quite simple… it’s tight.”
Norris’ claim that McLaren’s pace in Australia was also track specific appeared to be discredited by his fantastic podium finish in Imola, but luck was not on their side in the United States, as Mercedes and Alfa Romeo cars took advantage of their ability to go fast in a straight line.
Despite this, the six-time podium finisher believes his car isn’t really poor; it just needs a little more power to continuously contend at the front of the fierce midfield battle.
“In the race, we have decent pace. It’s just going to take a bit more for us to take on Mercedes and the guys in front,” he explained. “If we can do that, we can be happy.”
“Miami has a lot of slow corners where Mercedes have one of the best cars in the field. From day one, the Mercedes has been good in those sections,” he added.
“I guess they figured out this weekend how to get more potential out of the car. So I’m not surprised. It’s been like that in Formula 1 for years.”
“Sometimes your car suits the track, sometimes it suits another car better.”
Norris feels Mercedes has an advantage in “slow corners,” which are particularly important for six of the 17 turns in Miami, although he acknowledges that other cars will perform better on various circuits.
With Norris’ retirement from the Miami race, Hamilton’s P6 finish saw the 37-year-old reclaim sixth place in the Drivers’ Championship.