Lando Norris says that McLaren has been left “shocked” by its deficit to rivals when activating the drag reduction system (DRS).
McLaren has endured a difficult start to the 2023 Formula 1 season, admitting at the launch of its car that it had missed development targets.
It is set to unveil upgrades this weekend in Baku to aid its quest for more pace, as it currently is unable to keep up with the head of the midfield pack.
Last time out in Melbourne, McLaren scored its first points of the year with Norris and team-mate Oscar Piastri classifying in sixth and eighth respectively.
But Norris says that during qualifying, when four DRS zones were in play, McLaren’s “draggy” car struggled massively compared to other teams when the rear wing flap was opened.
“It shocked us how bad we are with DRS and how draggy we are when we open DRS,” he said.
“We gain, I guess, a few km/h, but some of the other cars gain 10-15 km/h and it’s a different ballpark to us.
“So, Saturdays are a big weakness for us at the minute because, especially when you’ve got four DRS zones, it’s not in our favour in any way.
“But we understand it I think, and we’re working hard to try and figure out how to make it better and more efficient and things like that. It will be a while before we can improve that too much so we’re trying.
“But it’s difficult when it’s so tough on Saturday; it makes our life harder on Sunday.”
Norris questions need for red flag flurry in Melbourne
The end of the race in Melbourne saw mayhem occur, with Race Control deploying a red flag to stop the race when Kevin Magnussen crashed at Turn 2.
Upon resuming, multiple incidents caused another red flag.
Norris questioned the need for the stoppages and believes that it was simply to “put on a show” for the fans.
“I guess I was racing, and I had a good race, but the whole point of red flagging – it feels like it was just to put on a show,” he said.
“I’m the one driving the car, so I feel like I could have been so unlucky for no reason. I easily could have crashed with [Nico] Hulkenberg at the end, because you’ve got people going off and you’re suddenly swerving and things like that.
“So, we’ve come all the way to Australia but it’s so much hard work driving 55/56 laps perfectly and, because they try and put on a show, you just get unlucky and everything can get taken away from you all of a sudden.
“So, I think that side of it, and I just think it needs a small re-think. I don’t think it needs a change, it just needs a small re-think in my opinion.”