Lando Norris says McLaren, as a new customer this year, already has been able to show Mercedes where it can improve with its power unit.
McLaren was powered by Mercedes in 2014 but then switched to Honda for three years before spending the last three with Renault. Now back with the manufacturer it started the V6 turbo hybrid era with, McLaren is the only customer with experience of other suppliers during these regulations, and Norris says that is helping push Mercedes on specific items.
“Altogether it’s been a smooth operation with Mercedes power so far,” Norris said. “We’re happy with how things have gone. The bit for me is (learning) all the new switches and ways of working that they have; those are the biggest things to get used to.
“On the whole, it’s a little step forward in a lot of areas,” he continued. “But there are some areas that still need some work, and we’ve been working very closely with them over the three days. The other teams which are Mercedes-powered have been with Mercedes for a while, and there’s just that constant everyone kind of gets used to things. We’ve come in from Renault with fresh eyes, a different perspective, different feelings; and I think we’ve really been able to add and improve in some areas.
“So very productive between us and the Merc guys – HPP – and I think we can be happy with the improvements we’ve made over the (test). There are still things to work on, though – again, not just with the car but with the PU and so on. But it is at the moment looking good and we’re happy with how things have gone.
“We have to wait until qualifying to really unlock the potential and see what the baby’s got.”
Although pleased with where McLaren stands after pre-season testing, Norris said he has been impressed by one of last year’s midfield rivals, particularly the way other cars are handling.
“The AlphaTauri is looking strong. Looking at onboards and seeing the data, they look like they’ve got a very strong car and it’s very nice to drive – good in all kinds of conditions. The other thing is everything looks quite close; no one looks miles ahead. The Red Bull has always looked strong and that’s kind of expected. Maybe the shock is the Mercedes not looking quite as good as you’d expected; but I don’t think anything’s a surprise.
“I don’t know – it’s pre-season testing and everything’s up in the air. No one really knows what everyone’s doing, and it’s more of just a guessing game. I don’t want to be the guy who says a team is doing bad or good and then they just prove me wrong and make me look like a muppet come the race weekend! I’m happy just to wait and see, and focus on myself.”