Norris says McLaren are a 'long, long way off' Alpine after opening Singapore practice
Lando Norris and Daniel Ricciardo were left lamenting a “difficult” opening day of practice in Singapore, with Norris explaining the approach taken by McLaren with their new-for-Marina Bay upgrade package.
Norris finished 19th in FP1 and improved to 11th in FP2, the Briton running a new upgrade package including remodelled sidepods for the 2022 Singapore Grand Prix. The driver was far from optimistic at McLaren’s chances of taking on the likes of Alpine, who are 18 points ahead in the chase for P4 in the championship.
“It’s looking tough, like, we’re a long way off Alfa Romeo, a long, long, long way off Alpine, so looking like one of the tougher weekends – which is a shame, but it’s the way it is,” said Norris.
“We’ll maximise it and do the best we can with the car we’ve got and the performance we have this weekend, and we’ll keep pushing. It’s all we can do for now, so some small things to hopefully find tomorrow and we can still go for it. It’s just not looking as easy as normal.”
Afterwards, Norris said that the car performed at a “similar level” to its previous spec, and explained why McLaren are looking to the long-term with their Singapore upgrades.
“Nothing surprising, let’s say, in any way, so that’s a good thing,” said Norris of the upgrades. “But like I said before, yesterday to the media, it’s not an upgrade, it’s just a different car that performs at a very similar level.
“We weren’t expecting like a big step or to go much quicker or look more competitive today… it’s a car which will hopefully allow us to unlock more in the future, into next year. So, this is again, not a short-term thing; it’s more of a long-term thing. It’s been working well and as we expect, it’s just trying to learn about it and try and unlock some small things for tomorrow.”
Ricciardo, who finished 12th then 18th in the opening Singapore practice sessions, echoed his team mate’s comments concerning McLaren’s chances on the streets of the Lion City.
“Well it’s definitely a difficult day. Still fresh, still fresh out of the car, but yeah just very, very tricky, just to obviously extract some speed out of it today, so certainly got a bit of work to do tonight,” he said.
“Of course it’s only practice but we’ll make some changes tonight and try and figure out where it’s at, but yeah, certainly a bit of a struggle… We made some changes for FP2 but yeah, clearly it wasn’t beneficial.”