Lando Norris placed P5 on Thursday’s timing charts, having done 113 laps over the course of his duties to McLaren for the day. His best time was 1:17.573, set on the medium C3 compound, some 0.7 seconds off the pace set by Sebastian Vettel.
Speaking after he stepped out of the MCL35 for the final time in pre-season ahead of the championship starting in Australia, Norris said he’s largely happy with the car he’ll be racing with this year: “I am very happy with things and the progress we’ve made since last week but, because of things like the wind, it’s been very hard to get a good feeling of what the car is like.”
“At the same time, if this is a race weekend and its this windy, then its something you’ve got to deal with. I think thats one of the area we have to work on as a team. From what i see the other teams have strength or…less weaknesses in those areas.”
“We have an understanding at least of what the car is good at and what the car not good at and those areas we have to work on. Which is a good thing. It’s not like ‘How?’ or ‘Why?’
Asked about the differences between the McLaren MCL35 and last year’s successful MCL34, Norris explained: “In terms of consistency of the car from one lap to another when the wind is not terrible…..being able to the push on the long runs. The car has just been nicer to drive. It’s less on edge, as peaky as they say, and its a bit more stable and consistent.”
“You are still pushing and the limits still moves up. Driving on the limit the car will still be sliding and moving around but the main thing is it’s more consistent and nicer to drive.”
However, Norris said he still feels there are weaknesses to be addressed, and that there is no single area on the car that he feels they are leading the pack: “I am happy with areas on how its improved comparing to last year.”
“Some areas its not moved on as much as i would have liked. Areas its not good at comparing to Mercedes, the fastest….probably everything. I don’t think there is any areas we are as competitive as Mercedes so, if I want to be that harsh, I can say it’s not good enough in any area.”
However, it’s a much more self-assured Lando Norris entering 2020, having been a rookie stepping up to Formula 1 with McLaren only this time twelve months ago: “As a driver i am comparing myself to this time last year, I am a lot more confident, I feel a lot better. That’s a good thing, it makes me feel I am in a much better position”.
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