Norris hopeful McLaren can hit back against rivals after ‘not nice’ car feeling in Bahrain

BAHRAIN, BAHRAIN - MARCH 02: Lando Norris of Great Britain and McLaren talks to the media in the

Lando Norris was left feeling happy with his sixth place in the Bahrain Grand Prix after what he called a “difficult day” in the McLaren, despite the team matching the pace of Mercedes.

The Briton started from P7 on the grid and faced some early struggles with his rear tyres before his pace improved as the race wore on. He crossed the finish line just under two seconds away from George Russell in fifth place.

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While Norris spoke of some struggles with the conditions and the car after the race, the 24-year-old was glad to see that the team’s performance had ultimately matched their expectations.

“It didn’t feel great [on track], but then when you look at things, we were the same pace as Mercedes which is pretty much where we expected to be, and I think we should be happy with that,” said Norris. “A little bit off, I’d say quite a bit off the Ferraris and a long way off the Red Bull, but again that’s what we were expecting.

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“I think it was a difficult day, the car balance was not nice. I think the wind conditions, as much as they died down and changed to what we thought was going to be favourable, I don’t really think it ended up that way. Some things to look into, but I’m happy with today.

“It was tough and I wanted that little bit more, especially to George [Russell] who was not far ahead, but I feel like I got the most out of the car today so I was happy with that.”

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The Bahrain International Circuit has generally not been favourable to McLaren in recent years, with Norris ending the 2023 event in 17th and last place while team mate Oscar Piastri retired from the running.

With that in mind, Norris felt that the team can take some optimism from having a stronger outing at the track this year.

BAHRAIN, BAHRAIN - MARCH 02: Lando Norris of Great Britain driving the (4) McLaren MCL38 Mercedes

Norris and Piastri ended the season-opening Bahrain Grand Prix in sixth and eighth respectively

“If you look at our stats of our performances in Bahrain, they’ve not been great, so to start the race and to start the year off like we have I think is positive,” he explained. “Of course we always want that little bit more and especially when you’re so close, but we know where we stand.

“There were plenty of races even at the end of last year when we were great, Mercedes were still quicker than us at certain points and Ferrari were a lot quicker, so I’m hoping this is our 'down' in terms of just tricky tracks [that] are not suited to our car, and hopefully we’ve got some better ones coming up.”

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On the other side of the garage, Piastri ended the race in P8, the same position that he started from. Along the way he enjoyed a brief battle with Lewis Hamilton, with the two going side-by-side when Piastri emerged from the pit lane after making his second pit stop, but it was Hamilton who ultimately came out on top and claimed P7 in the race.

Asked how he was feeling about his result afterwards, Piastri responded: “Not too bad, I think [it was] not a terrible way to start the year. I think we definitely had some good moments and bad moments in the race but, yeah, I think we were about where we expected, to be honest.

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“It was close between everyone. [It] felt like with Lewis and with Lando and with George, even [Charles] Leclerc at one point, it just felt like we’d catch each other a tenth, [then] lose a tenth, so we’re close but not quite close enough to really fight.

“But I’m excited to see what the next few races have got in store for us because historically this place has not been very friendly to us. The next few races have been quite friendly to us, so I’m optimistic.”

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With F1 making its return to racing action after the winter break, Piastri added that he was glad to get behind the wheel again.

“It was nice to get back out there and just be racing,” the Australian commented. “Honestly it felt like I raced just last week, it felt pretty natural jumping back in! But yeah, not a bad way to start the year I think.”



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