McLaren reserve driver Lando Norris believes the team needs to make sure it carries over some of the strengths of its old package to the new specification of car.
After a disappointing start to the season, McLaren introduced a significant upgrade at the Spanish Grand Prix last weekend and reached Q3 for the first time courtesy of Fernando Alonso. The upgrade including a major change to the front of the car, with Norris able to carry out a back-to-back comparison as he tested the old specification on behalf of Pirelli on Tuesday before driving the updated McLaren on Wednesday.
“There’s definitely some differences,” Norris said. “Positive, I think, in quite a few ways, but there’s still some things with the old one which are always positive, so it’s trying to combine them and get both on one car which would make it even faster, basically.
“I think in general it’s a bit more downforce, it’s good for me having the confidence to push at [Turn] 1, 2, 3, all the high-speed corners. I think overall it’s definitely been a slight step forward.”
Asked where the updated car is weaker compared to the previous specification, Norris added: “I wouldn’t say there’s many things which are weaker.
“I think in some ways, a bit more downforce with the newer package… it becomes maybe a tiny bit more snappy or something, but overall I could still go through corners slightly faster. I think if I did make a mistake it’d be slightly more costly. I think the old one was a bit, not more ‘predictable’, but slightly more forgiving in some ways, I don’t think it’s maybe so much the downforce, but trying to maximize the newer package.”
Emphasizing his point, Norris explained he suffered a spin in the new car during Wednesday morning’s running, after believing he had initially recovered a slide.
“It was into Turn 12, it’s one corner that’s quite tricky because of the wind, sometimes it picks up sometimes it doesn’t,” he said. “It was more of a mistake on my part, to be honest, I just pushed the entry too much and lost the rear.
“In F2 you’re able to kind of control the car more when you’re oversteering, and from what everyone’s seen in F1 and the combination of the high downforce and the new surface, it’s quite tricky. When it does go it continues to go and it’s hard to get back, especially in the corners which have the crosswind and tailwind.
“I thought I’d got it, then it went again, then I got it, then it went again. It was alright, no damage or anything, just a spin.”