Testing – McLaren’s test driver Lando Norris was at the wheel of the MCL33 for both days of testing.
Norris was brought in on Pirelli testing duties on Tuesday, which meant he was driving an MCL33 the team supplied for the tyre manufacturer which ran with the original specification package used for the opening races of the year.
With McLaren bringing an extensive upgrade package for Barcelona, including revised bodywork, trim, and a whole new front wing assembly, Norris drove the very latest spec for the team itself when he took over on Wednesday. This meant he got a direct comparison between the two specification McLarens, and he was enthusiastic about the direction the new upgrades had taken: “There’s definitely some differences. Positive, I think, in quite a few ways, but there’s still some things with the old one which are always positive, so it’s trying to combine them and get both on one car which would make it even faster, basically.”
“I think in general it’s a bit more downforce, it’s good for me having the confidence to push at [Turn] 1, 2, 3, all the high-speed corners. I think overall it’s definitely been a slight step forward. I wouldn’t say there’s many things which are weaker.”
“I think in some ways, a bit more downforce with the newer package… it becomes maybe a tiny bit more snappy or something, but overall I could still go through corners slightly faster. I think if I did make a mistake it’d be slightly more costly.”
“I think the old one was a bit, not more ‘predictable’, but slightly more forgiving in some ways, I don’t think it’s maybe so much the downforce, but trying to maximize the newer package”
While Norris did bring out the red flags temporarily during Wednesday afternoon’s track time, it was a minor issue. McLaren completed their test programme as planned, and Norris put in 80 laps of the track over the course of the day and finished P3 with a late 1:18.039.