Lando Norris is impressed by the way McLaren was able to address a low-speed weakness to be the fourth-fastest car at the Hungarian Grand Prix.
McLaren has enjoyed a strong first part of the season but was expecting to find it tough to extend its advantage over the rest of the midfield in the constructors’ championship at the Hungaroring due to the number of low-speed corners. After a tricky weekend in Germany, the team responded by locking out the fourth row and securing a double-points finish as Carlos Sainz finished fifth and Norris ninth after a slow pit stop.
“We came in… not really nervous, but not as confident as some other tracks,” Norris said. “But we had a few tweaks. We obviously had a slightly bigger rear wing as well, more bias towards this track and maximum downforce and so on. Nothing which we knew was going to make the car loads better, just some small tweaks here and there.
“In combination with the car, they seemed to work pretty well, and we took some small steps forward in the areas that we knew we were quite weak, which was the slow-speed (corners). I think that’s why our performance was a bit better than we thought it was going to be, which is a positive thing, because they know it is more the direction we need to be working in.
“I think it was a better race than we all expected, especially not fifth with Carlos ahead of (Valtteri) Bottas and ahead of (Pierre) Gasly. From his side it was very good, and for the team as well. From my side, it could have been almost as good. Obviously I was behind Carlos, but we had a slow pit stop which kind of let everything down.”
Sainz agreed with his teammate’s assessment, also picking out a spell of the race where he was faster than the Ferraris ahead of him as an example of McLaren’s potential.
“We were pleasantly surprised,” Sainz said. “Still we were lapped, so it means we still have a lot of work to do. But at the same time, the last part of that first stint gave us hope and ambition to know that we can keep closing on the top guys.”
McLaren heads into the summer break fourth in the constructors’ standings with 82 points, 39 clear of Toro Rosso in fifth.