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‘It’s nice to be back in a race car’ says Norris as he gets first taste of the MCL35M at Silverstone

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McLaren became the first team to launch their 2021 challenger on Monday, and they wasted no time in getting the new car out on track with Lando Norris and Daniel Ricciardo behind the wheel at Silverstone on Tuesday.

The MCL35M is the first McLaren to have a Mercedes engine since their previous partnership ended in 2014, after the Woking team switched from Renault power units for this season.

RAPID REACTION: Our first tech take on McLaren's 2021 MCL35M

And after revealing the car on Monday, it was up to a damp Silverstone for the first track running of 2021, as McLaren used one of their allotted filming days to give the new car a shakedown.

And after completing a few laps of the circuit, Norris said he was pleased to be back behind the wheel after the winter break.

"First of all it’s just nice to be back in a race car. Back in a Formula 1 car – and a McLaren – but it’s nice to sit in the bit of machinery that everyone’s been working hard to put together so big hats off and big thanks to everyone in the team," he told Sky Sports F1.

"It was nice. Difficult conditions to get an initial feeling, but still just lovely to be back in a race car, pushing it to the limit, a few little oversteers and understeers here and there, and that’s what I like.

"This is day one of me trying to make my own improvements and starting off the season on the right foot and trying to be as prepared as possible. This is more when I can have a bigger impact and start giving my feedback and we can make this car as quick as possible.

READ MORE: Will the McLaren march continue? 5 takeaways from their 2021 season launch

"It’s still early days and things to go through, and many more laps we still need to do, but there’s already comments I have from my own comfort side of things, but also with the driveability and the car itself. Not too many comments yet, no complaints, but it’s still early days."

After getting his first taste of the car, Norris said it was too early to say which other teams and drivers he might be battling this season.

"I think if it’s anything to go by from last year, it’s going to be a bit of everyone. Even if you’re the fastest car there’s races where you’re racing everyone on the grid, or you’re having to come through, or you have one poor qualifying and it can cost you getting into Q3 or several positions.

"It’s going to be close, I’m sure everyone’s working as hard as possible – every team – to try and make those small improvements, and they’ll have the same objective as what we do. We just hope that we can do a little bit better."

READ MORE: Competition with Norris will be ‘fierce’ and drive McLaren forward, says new recruit Ricciardo

Norris's new team mate Daniel Ricciardo, signed from Renault after two years with the Anglo-French outfit, also got some laps of the MCL35M – his very first in a McLaren car.

Main image from McLaren Twitter feed

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