When asked how his MCL60 felt across the opening day, Norris admitted: “To begin the day, not so good. Really the only run we looked competitive was the final run, which makes us look very good, but I would say we’re not as good as what it looks.
“I think with the other tyres, with the medium and the hard, we struggle quite a bit more… and also on the race runs we struggle quite a bit more than we do on the one-lap Soft, it’s a C5 so it’s obviously a Soft tyre, provides a lot of grip for one lap, which is always a good thing for us, we always need that little extra thing that brings the balance closer towards us, it gives us what we almost wish we have from the car itself. But as soon as we lose that extra grip we go to high fuel, different tyres, our performance relative to others decreases quite a bit.
“I’m happy, we took some good steps forward; we made some improvements today, but definitely still not in a competitive enough place.”
Whilst Red Bull has continued to dominate throughout 2023, McLaren’s mid-season resurgence has brought it into contention with the teams jostling directly behind.
Ferrari has delivered on the widespread pre-weekend expectations it would be a threat at its home race, with Carlos Sainz setting the fastest time in the second session.
Norris asserts that most of McLaren’s deficit to its rivals – including Ferrari – is coming down the multitude of straights at Monza.
Pressed on whether McLaren has any ideas already about potential improvements it can make overnight, Norris responded: “I think so, it’s clear where we’re still losing. The majority of it is still in the straights, comparing to some of the other cars, like the Ferrari is unbelievably quick in the straight.
“But I think we always expected them to be quick here, they have a good balance in the very slow speed corners they’re always very competitive, and they’re always slippery in the straights.
“I think we have a few ideas and things to work on, we took a good step forward from P1 to P2 so maybe a bit more of that. A bit more in that direction would be helpful.”