Lando Norris believes McLaren’s mid-season resurgence has propelled it to “the closest we’ve ever been” to a Formula 1 race victory since he arrived at the team.
Having slipped back to fifth in the standings last year, McLaren began the season admitting it had missed vital development targets with its MCL60 car.
Consequently, the British entry was the only side yet to score a point after the opening two rounds, condemning McLaren to its worst start to a season since 2017.
However, the arrival of a revised car from the Austria Grand Prix onwards has completely transformed McLaren’s season, with Norris scoring consecutive podium finishes at the British and Hungarian Grands Prix.
Norris has lavished praise on the remarkable progress McLaren has made this year, but he has challenged the team to ensure it continues to build on its recent gains.
“We would’ve been happy with half the step we’ve done,” Norris said in an interview with McLaren.
“To make as big of a step as we have, which I would say is one of the biggest steps taken by any team in the middle of the season, has impressed me the most.
“We want to continue with the improvements that we’ve made so far, maximise our opportunities and make a couple fewer mistakes from both my side and the team’s.
“Sometimes, we have maybe made a couple of mistakes, just a little bit, so it is about ironing them out and having some more perfect weekends.”
The two podiums Norris has accrued this year have taken his career tally in F1 to eight, but the Briton is still awaiting his maiden grand prix victory in his fifth campaign.
Norris had to settle for being the second car home in a McLaren 1-2 at the 2021 Italian Grand Prix before a late strategy mishap in mixed conditions denied him from converting pole position into the win at the next round in Russia that same year.
“It’s made me feel a lot more confident that we’ve been able to continue in a much better way than we have in the past,” continued Norris, who has repeatedly been linked with a move to Red Bull.
“Whereas, in the past there were always times when the hopes were raised, but we didn’t continue on some of the improvements we made.
“I would say we’re also the closest we’ve been ever over the last five years. So, if there’s any time to believe we’re getting closer to winning races, it’s now.”
Norris concedes that McLaren’s renewed competitiveness and the heightened expectations on the team have increased the pressure internally at every race weekend.
“It’s a different mentality because you’re fighting for much higher positions,” he acknowledged.
“I think you have to change your mentality if you’re fighting for a podium or a top five. It’s definitely tougher to make the correct decisions when you’re in that position.
“So, it’s changed a little bit for me and the team, but they’ve dealt with it very well in terms of pit stops and things like that. We’ve actually done some of our best work when we’re under pressure.”