Lando Norris says McLaren is not “chasing a perfect car” with its 2023 Formula 1 upgrades, insisting that he is still being limited by the same characteristics as previous years.
McLaren began the year hindered by missing development targets with its MCL60 car, but the team’s campaign was transformed by a series of updates from Austria onwards
Norris was able to utilise the revised car to scoop successive podium finishes in Britain and Hungary before more new parts enabled him to convert fourth on the grid into another second-place finish in Singapore.
The Briton asserts that McLaren’s latest modifications – targeted at improving its car’s slow-speed cornering performance – delivered precisely what the team expected.
“It’s done everything that it should have done,” Norris expressed regarding the upgrades. “Everything kind of worked very well from FP1 already, same as Austria when we bolted everything on.
“It’s done what we expected, worked as expected, and was pretty much good to go from the first runs. So I think that’s a very positive thing. There were some things to tweak and little things.
“But otherwise, a very good point that it’s just on the car and good to go kind of thing, which is always a positive and reassuring sign for the future.”
While Norris immediately ran the raft of new parts from the outset at the Marina Bay Circuit, team-mate Oscar Piastri will only receive the entire package this weekend.
Having not run the old-spec car since Monza, Norris discloses that it was tough to examine the improvements amid the difference in circuit configurations.
“It’s a very different circuit and so on. It’s difficult to go yeah it is better here, and better there,” he explained. “It’s just a bit easier to get full throttle and little things.
“It’s hard to know when you don’t back-to-back things and stuff like that. But overall, the way you have to drive the car is the same. You kind of still find the limit.
“So you’re still complaining of the same things and same issues, it’s just you’re probably going a little bit quicker while doing so.
“It had taken a good step forward, which is reassuring for here and the rest of the season. So yes, positive from all of that.”
Norris concedes the recent upgrades still haven’t improved the limitations he has previously spoken about with McLaren’s F1 machinery, citing that the team is solely fixated on adding performance.
“I don’t think there’s ever a perfect car,” he acknowledged. “I mean, like as Max [Verstappen] has shown, and the struggles they’ve had this weekend [in Singapore], to go from the most consecutive race wins to a struggle.
“I remember Mercedes being similar here a few years ago with dominating, but they just couldn’t get the tyres to work or whatever it was. Maybe Singapore is just the breaking point for everyone that’s doing too well.
“But I think you’re always going to find the limit, no matter if the limits up here or down here. You’re always going to complain of everything. So I don’t think we’re chasing a perfect car. We’re just chasing a car that’s competitive enough from our side to keep up with these guys ahead.
“The main thing is there are characteristics of what I know the car has been like for the last five years. And just things that I always feel a little bit limited by.”
Norris’ third podium of the year and Piastri’s 10-place climb to seventh enabled McLaren to take a chunk out of Aston Martin, who failed to score for the first time this year.
McLaren is 78 points behind its Silverstone counterparts with seven rounds remaining.