Norris believes McLaren has a shot at overtaking Ferrari for third place in the F1 constructors' battle.

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Norris believes McLaren has a shot at overtaking Ferrari for third place in the F1 constructors’ battle.

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Lando Norris believes McLaren has a real chance to challenge Ferrari for third place in the 2023 Formula 1 constructors’ standings in the remaining five grand prix weekends. McLaren started the season struggling, but after a conceptual shift and personnel adjustments, their B-spec has transformed the MCL60 into a reliable contender for the podium.

Norris and teammate Oscar Piastri emerged as the closest rivals to Red Bull’s dominant Max Verstappen in Japan and Qatar, securing double podium finishes for the Woking team in both races. Piastri also clinched a sprint race victory in Losail.

This surge brought McLaren within 11 points of fourth-placed Aston Martin in the standings. Even Ferrari’s third place now seems to be within reach, as they are only 79 points ahead.

When asked about the possibility of catching Ferrari in the remaining races, including two more sprints, Norris stated, “It’s definitely achievable, I believe. Just a few races ago, we were trailing Aston by over 70 points. We’re not just improving in terms of speed, but we also pulled off a remarkable 1.8-second pit stop, which is a testament to the hard work of the team. Consistently rewarding the entire team is incredibly motivating and provides a significant boost every weekend.

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Norris also emphasized that not every upcoming circuit will align as favorably with the McLaren’s strengths, particularly tracks like Suzuka and Losail that demand high downforce. Consequently, the team may not replicate the impressive points hauls seen in Japan (33 points) and Qatar (47 points, including a sprint race win).

“We’re aware that Mercedes was very competitive, nearly on par with us in Qatar, but they made some mistakes,” he pointed out.

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“So, if they have a clean weekend, they could pose a tougher challenge for us. That’s why I’m not as confident in making predictions.

“Remember, just three weekends ago, Ferrari secured pole position and race wins. Nothing has fundamentally changed; it’s just a different track. While we’re looking stronger, they might not be performing as well.

“We’re definitely not overestimating our advantage. We’re confident, as we should be, but we understand there will still be races where we won’t have the same level of dominance.”

Piastri, who achieved his first F1 podium and sprint race victory at Suzuka during an impressive rookie season, acknowledged that closing the gap on Ferrari will be a significant challenge, though not an insurmountable one.

“Suzuka and [Qatar] have been tracks we’ve been eyeing for some time, considering what plays to our strengths,” added the Australian.

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“There will be races that prove more demanding and potentially suit other teams better.

“Closing a 79-point gap in roughly five races and a couple of sprints? It’s a formidable challenge, but we’re up for it. Hopefully, we can pull it off.

Reference

www.autosport.com

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