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Norris ‘confident’ McLaren can make another step in 2020

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McLaren’s resurgent performance throughout 2019 was one of the key talking points of the year. And ahead of the 2020 season, Lando Norris was predicting another step for his team in the coming campaign – although perhaps not as giant a leap as we witnessed in 2019…

McLaren were comfortably the fourth fastest team last year, as they finished 54 points to the good over Renault in the constructors’ fight. And with only subtle tweaks to the regulations for 2020, Norris has admitted he’s optimistic for McLaren’s chances this season.

READ MORE: McLaren reveal launch date for the MCL35

“This year’s car is much more of an adaptation from last year’s car,” said Norris, speaking at the Autosport International show in the UK. “The team, I think, have done a very good job in working on, particularly, the areas in which we were not good last year, that we were quite weak in – which was almost every [area], but there were more specific [areas] that we struggled in. From the results I’ve seen, it’s looking positive.

I’m not going to say we’re going to be winning races this season – I would love to, but I’m not going to over-hype anything

Lando Norris

“I’m confident,” he added. “The guys have done such a good job over the winter to improve the car as much as possible. I’m not going to say we’re going to be winning races this season; I would love to, but I’m not going to over-hype anything. We’ve got to be realistic. We want to be saying we’re going to take a step forward and I think we can be confident in that – but how big of a step is unknown compared to the other teams.”

READ MORE: 2020 will be 'much tougher' for Mercedes – Wolff

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Carlos Sainz took McLaren's first podium since 2014 at the 2019 Brazilian Grand Prix

If Norris was being circumspect about how much he expected McLaren to kick on in 2020, so too was McLaren Racing CEO Zak Brown – also speaking at Autosport International – who felt that the jump the team made from 2018 into 2019 might have skewed fans’ expectations.

“We had a huge step forward from ’18 into ’19,” said Brown. “Part of that was that we were so poor in ’18 that it was hard not to take a big step in ’19! So I don’t see that same step coming from ’19 to ’20. The regulations are very, very similar so I don’t think the grid’s going to look a lot different. There’ll probably be a little bit of surprise here and there.

We feel pretty good about the 2020 car, and we just need to keep our heads down. It’s not going to happen overnight

Zak Brown

“We’re still a young team,” he added. “[Technical Director] James Key didn’t develop last year’s car, this year did, so let’s see what that looks like. [Team Principal] Andreas Seidl only joined in the middle of last year.

“So really what we need to do is get tidier, more race-fit, get a good head start. The ’21 car’s already in the wind tunnel, we feel pretty good about the ’20 car, and we just need to keep our heads down. It’s not going to happen overnight. We’re going to have some great weekends and we’re going to have some bad weekends [in 2020], so let’s just hope we can keep moving forward.”

F1 fans’ first chance to see the potential of the new McLaren MCL35 will come on February 19, when the car hits the track at the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya for the first day of 2020 pre-season testing.

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