McLaren’s reserve driver Lando Norris said he believes the current McLaren feels better to drive than last year’s, and that he wasn’t aiming for headline times in the two day Hungarian test.
With McLaren giving their two race drivers a longer summer break by letting them take the in-season test off, driving duties were handed over to their reserve driver Lando Norris. The Formula 2 driver adapted to the MCL33 quickly, having not driven it since the Barcelona test in May.
According to Sporting Director Gil De Ferran, Norris acclimatised himself again very quickly and enjoyed 107 laps on the opening day, including quite a number of Intermediate tyre laps as the rain fell in the afternoon.
“Yesterday was quite tricky because it was the first time I’d driven in the wet in Formula 1, and it’s quite a different experience to Formula 2.” he explained. Driving these cars does take a bit of time to get used to, but a lot of it’s just because of the run-plan, testing a lot of different parts and getting aero data.”
On Day 2, Norris racked up 73 laps – a smaller amount of mileage racked up as the McLaren encountered some minor issues that hampered their track time in the afternoon. When on track, Norris concentrated on short runs primarily, particularly to allow the team to focus on aero data collection and correlation. In the afternoon, there was a change to slightly longer runs for tyre compound evaluation. As a result of the methodical run plan, Norris says there was no aim for headline grabbing lap times, such as seen by Ferrari & Mercedes on the HyperSoft tyre. His best time was 1:18.472 on the Soft tyre.
“The team has been trying to get as much information as they can so they can properly analyse the runs. There’s not been that much performance testing where I’ve been able to do as quick a lap-time as I would like, but that’s the nature of our particular run-plan this week.” explained Norris.
Having tested last year’s MCL32 as his first taste of F1 machinery last year, Norris said that the newer car is better to drive: “This year’s car feels much better than last year’s, for sure, mainly because it’s got a bit more power, but it’s hard to say. Compared to last year, I’ve been doing a lot more testing rather trying to make myself look good by doing a fast lap-time.”
Norris has admitted a willingness to be patient about chasing an F1 seat, saying he’s aiming for 2020, but he has been linked with a possible Toro Rosso seat. The team apparently sought him out as a potential replacement for Brendon Hartley ahead of the Canadian Grand Prix, but the advances were shot down by McLaren. However, with McLaren now aiming to get Technical Director James Key released from his Toro Rosso contract and subsequent gardening leave as quickly as possible, Norris may yet find himself at the junior Red Bull squad on loan.
Whatever his immediate future holds, the young British driver is not getting carried away and says that every moment he spends in an F1 car at present is allowing him to progress his skills: “These test days are just as important as any other days I’ve ever done. Whether it’s Barcelona, Abu Dhabi, here last year, they’re all important in terms of how I drive on-track, my behaviour off-track, my feedback, and how I try and move everything forward.”
Back home and what’a great couple of days. Our run plan was all about getting as much information out, so I didn’t really get to push it that hard. I still ended as the fastest guy of the test… on softs 😂💯 Thanks again @McLarenF1 ✌🏼🏖 #BudaTest #F1 pic.twitter.com/F19SGY65M1
— Lando Norris (@LandoNorris) August 2, 2018