Lando Norris says McLaren still has “a few more bits of the puzzle to put together” but insists he’s excited to see that his team is “on the right track” for 2024.
McLaren's journey in Formula 1 this year has been nothing short of astounding, with the Woking-based outfit transitioning over the summer from a second-tier mid-field contender to a top-three challenger.
Spearheaded by team boss Andrea Stella, McLaren’s three-stage development programme that kicked off in earnest in Austria gradually propelled the team’s MCL60 up F1’s pecking order and landing it as the closest rival to Red Bull’s dominant RB19 in the back half of the season.
But McLaren’s forward march still has momentum according to Norris,
“For us to catch Mercedes, for us to catch Ferrari in terms of pace… We've been behind them for two years, they've not really taken any steps forward and we've taken a massive step forward, and there’s plenty more things that we know we can improve on. It's a good time for us,” said the Briton.
“A few more bits of the puzzle to put together but we found the key pieces. We know what direction to go in, so I'm really very proud of the whole team.
“If we were in Bahrain now and I looked ahead, I was dreading the season already. So, to come away with seven podiums and all the great moments we've had was definitely not expected.”
This year, McLaren completed its important infrastructure overhaul, which means that its new In-house wind tunnel will wield its influence on car design for the first time.
Simultaneously, the team is set to welcome prominent signings, including Rob Marshall, who joins from Red Bull to oversee engineering and design, and David Sanchez, recruited from Ferrari to lead car concept and performance.
McLaren’s multi-front advancements will likely play a pivotal role in the team’s negotiations to retain Norris beyond the 2025, the term of his current contract.
Red Bull, Mercedes and Aston Martin have all expressed an interest in securing Norris’ services, but the 24-year-old’s self-professed dream is to win the title with team papaya.
“I'm very excited,” he said. “If we had just started the season how we were in the middle [of 2023 with the upgrades], we would be P2 in the constructors’ and P2 in the drivers’ championship.
“I know it doesn't always work like that. But we're on the right track. That's what I'm trying to say.
“We have some new hirings. The guys are coming in '24. So maybe not everything that they can bring to us we would have on the car straight away. But some things that we just already know now.
“We've learned already over the last four or five, six months, from the progress we've made, we've learned a lot. I'm excited because we're finally on the right track and we know which direction to push.
“I just want to start the season off well. If we could start well in Bahrain, I'll be a lot more excited.”