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McLaren drivers expect to be ‘a chunk behind’ two teams as they share pecking order predictions after testing

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Lando Norris and Oscar Piastri both namechecked Ferrari as well as Red Bull when pondering where McLaren might slot into the initial 2024 pecking order, believing that those two teams are a step ahead as things stand.

Red Bull and Ferrari shared the top spot over three days of pre-season testing at the Bahrain International Circuit, with Max Verstappen starting the week fastest before pace-setting efforts from Carlos Sainz and Charles Leclerc.

TESTING DEBRIEF: How the field stack up after the final day of pre-season running in 2024

McLaren, meanwhile, had a quieter week amid some teething problems with the MCL38 that included a fuel system issue on the second day of running, albeit a world away from the pain they endured during the 2022 and 2023 testing periods.

Having placed seventh and 14th respectively on the final day timesheets, which again saw most teams split their drivers’ running between the hotter morning and the cooler, more representative twilight conditions, Piastri and Norris had their say on how the field is shaping up.

“I think it’s been a… not a perfect few days, we’ve definitely had our fair share of issues, which is not exactly what we would like, but better now than [at the Grand Prix] next week!” Norris smiled.

Norris: We're definitely 'quite a chunk behind Ferrari'

“I’m feeling good, the car has definitely felt [like] an improvement in some areas, and in other areas still plenty to improve. A positive few days, but still a big gap to some of the guys ahead, so that’s a lot of work we still need to do over the next week or so to try and close that down already.”

Pushed further on where he thinks McLaren stand, he added: “We’re definitely quite a chunk behind Ferrari and quite a chunk behind Red Bull – I think they’re clearly a long way ahead.

READ MORE: Verstappen hails ‘very positive test’ for Red Bull as he gives verdict on RB20

“Apart from that, I think we’re still not in a bad position, we’re probably just around that next pack, but those two teams definitely seem to have a decent advantage over everyone else.”

Piastri echoed Norris’ sentiments as he declared that McLaren “need to find a bit more” if they are to achieve their goal of consistently fighting for podiums and victories this year.

“I think it’s not been the smoothest of tests overall for us, but I think this [Friday] afternoon we got a lot of good work done, which was good, a lot of laps,” said the Australian, who is entering his sophomore F1 campaign.

Piastri 'feeling more comfortable' after 3 days of testing

“I’m feeling more comfortable than I was three days ago, but still a little bit of work to do. I think we’re there or thereabouts, but it’s just trying to get a bit more performance out of the car.

“I guess we’ll really find out what everybody’s got next week, but it was feeling okay. I did a race distance and I’m feeling in decent shape after that, so not too bad.”

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He continued: “I think Red Bull are a step ahead of everybody. Ferrari look strong as well, not to the same extent, but they look like a decent second fastest at the moment. We’ve got a bit of work to do, but it’s not a bad place to be starting from.

“I think we’re somewhere towards the front-end in the mix there, but if we want to start challenging for podiums regularly and trying to win races, we need to find a bit more.”

McLaren are aiming to improve on P4 in last year’s constructors’ standings, having started 2023 on the back foot before making significant progress with mid-season upgrades and clearing Aston Martin late on to finish behind Red Bull, Mercedes and Ferrari.

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