Lando Norris believes Ferrari has had a quicker car for the majority of the season, but McLaren’s execution has allowed it to score more strongly in races.
McLaren currently holds third place in the constructors’ championship but has seen Ferrari cut its advantage to just 3.5 points with recently improved performances. In both Turkey and Austin, Ferrari had a clear advantage following the introduction of a power unit update, but Norris says any claims that McLaren was the far quicker team at other stages in the season are false.
“I don’t think we were ever clearly ahead, I don’t believe that,” Norris said. “There were races that we were ahead and sometimes it was by half a second or so. I think a mixture — in Turkey they were nine-tenths ahead in qualifying, so there’s a lot of places that they’re a lot quicker than us and have been all season.
“They’ve had a lot more pole positions than us. They’ve probably had a quick car for the majority of the season but in the races, we’ve done better. We just struggled in the race (in Austin) with the temperatures. With their few upgrades and engine and things, it’s definitely helped them make their little step to help them be ahead of us. A tough one because it’s not what we want so late in the season. We’ve got to try and do something more to get ahead of them.”
However, Norris admits Ferrari’s recent form makes it the more likely team to finish third in the constructors’ standings this year, given how it appears to have a car that is performing at a more consistent level than it was earlier in the season.
“It’s definitely just tipped them in that direction, for sure,” Norris said. “Coming into (Austin), we weren’t expecting it to be a great one for us, anyway. I don’t think we can be too disappointed but just how the weekend played out — FP1, FP2 and FP3 — we were quite good compared to Ferrari, but maybe they were just saving or whatever. They took a little away from us in quali.
“They definitely have the edge at the moment. They have the car, not quicker in every place, but a car that is more consistent than us, more drivable. Like for us, it was so difficult with the wind and so on, so easy to make mistakes and that’s where theirs looked much nicer. It’s definitely tipped in the way of Ferrari but it’s not changed the way we will try to keep pushing to stay ahead.”