Lando Norris secured consecutive podiums for the first time of his career in Hungary, confirming the progress made at McLaren with the latest upgrades to the MCL60.
Few would have predicted that McLaren would dominate F1 news headlines so positively way when the season began, with McLaren completely changing their fortunes after a disappointing start.
Team principal Andrea Stella spoke extensively about the importance of mid-season development even before testing began in Bahrain, and it is clear to see why.
McLaren has consistently been a top three time since its Austria package, with both drivers optimising the MCL60’s potential with impressive results.
Floor damage proved costly in Piastri’s efforts to secure a maiden podium, but the Australian driver has proven more than capable of fighting at the front.
Inevitably, in a similar way to Fernando Alonso at the start of 2023, Norris will receive questions about his chances of victory in this year’s campaign.
Speaking post-race, the 23-year-old admitted that achieving a race win will be difficult – but far from unrealistic:
“If Max retires, or something, then maybe. At the minute, the guys are too quick – unless they make mistakes or something happens.
“But at the moment, I think we’re very happy with the progress we’ve made.
“To go from where we were four, five races ago, struggling to get out of Q1 sometimes, to fighting for poles, and fighting for podiums.
“We’ll take it for now, and our time will come later on in the year.”
The British driver specifically stating that podiums will be acceptable ‘for now’, indicates the desire at McLaren to further progress.
It must be stressed that Andrea Stella’s squad has more updates planned for Spa, deciding to use the Hungarian GP as a chance to better understand their package.
The impact of these improvements has been unprecedented, especially given the consensus amongst F1 news outlets that low-speed corners would present more difficulties for McLaren.
Red Bull’s updates for the remainder of 2023 will be limited, so it seems reasonable to expect McLaren to regularly feature as contenders in the remaining 11 rounds.
Although the Milton Keynes squad can likely extract more performance from its latest updates, team papaya is well placed to pick up the pieces if Verstappen suffers any difficulties.
Author: Jaden Diaz-Ndisang