Lando Norris has been careful in managing expectations for this weekend’s action in Hungary, explaining that McLaren still has “pretty terrible” performance in low-speed corners. Given the characteristics of the Hungaroring, the MCL60 will be tested very differently from how it was in Silverstone.
Various factors (such as track temperature) contributed to McLaren establishing itself as the second-fastest team in Britain. Alongside this, the latest updates from Woking demonstrate a substantial step forward.
Oscar Piastri received in Silverstone the upgrade package Norris was given in Austria. In Spielberg, the British driver was already capable of competing with the top teams to secure an impressive P4.
However, the introduction of further updates for both cars in Britain (excluding McLaren’s latest rear wing, which Piastri will receive in Hungary) saw the MCL60 take another step forward.
Cooler conditions and a track with several high-speed elements certainly contributed to the P2 and P4 finish secured by team Papaya. Still, even a conservative analysis would conclude that significant progress has been made.
It seems likely that McLaren will contend for points on a regular basis for the rest of 2023. The question now is whether top 5 and podium finishes are attainable.
Speaking after his first podium of the year, Lando Norris was clear that more difficult challenges lie ahead for the team:
“But we do have a poor car, and I say poor, I would say pretty terrible in the slow-speed corners, [the car is] extremely difficult to drive.”
In terms of pure performance, this analysis from the 23-year-old is correct. With that said, it should be noted that even in Silverstone’s low-speed sections, McLaren was more competitive.
This improvement may not be enough to contend for victory in circuits like Hungary or Zandvoort. Still, it will certainly elevate the team’s performance compared to previous rounds.
“I feel we’re getting excited, and I accept that,” Norris continued.
“But we’re going to go to a couple of tracks coming up where I’m sure people are going to be saying, ‘What have you done now? How has it got so bad all of a sudden?’
“So, we’ve improved a lot of things. Tyre degradation, there are always little things you try and do with tyre cooling, but nothing big from that side.
“It’s just this track’s allowed us to look after the tyres nicely, keep them in a good condition. Simple as that. So a lot of it is track-specific.”
In a sport where mid-season development still reigns supreme, McLaren has proven a force to be reckoned with.
Modernised wind tunnels and development facilities should also be arriving at Woking. Although optimising these resources will take some time, such reinforcements will bolster the British squad’s charge.
However, much like Aston Martin, the true test for McLaren is if they can sustain this level of R&D over a prolonged period.
Author: Jaden Diaz-Ndisang