Norris: McLaren performance in Bahrain not a basis for judgement

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Lando Norris has warned that this weekend’s opening round of racing in Bahrain might not be a true reflection of the potential of McLaren’s 2024 car.

The Woking-based outfit enjoyed a productive three days of pre-season testing last week at Sakhir although team boss Andreas Stella acknowledged that there is still work to be done to bridge the gap to frontrunners Red Bull.

Assessing his team’s prospects for this weekend’s race, Norris pointed to McLaren’s recent sub-optimal track record in the Bahrain Grand Prix as the basis for his muted enthusiasm.

However, while the Briton anticipates a challenging race debut for MCL38, next Sunday’s display is unlikely to be a harbinger for the team’s 2024 season.

"Bahrain has never been a good circuit for us. We've never had one of our strongest races ever in Bahrain," Norris said.

"But I think it's way too quick to judge and just say, 'okay, we're not going to be great here in Bahrain, that's the end of the season for us.

"I think for everyone, because everyone's so up and down, you have to give us two or three, four or five races to get the first honest review of where everyone stands against one another, and not just judge it off of the performance that we're going to see here in Bahrain."

Norris suggested that while McLaren’s contender might not immediately shine at every venue, its potential remains promising, particularly on familiar, successful circuits.

However, he also admitted that the car’s development in certain areas fell short of expectations.

"It's a combination of things,” he said. “There's stuff that we still need to tackle if we want to make sure we've taken a step forward. Which I think we have.

"We've made the car quicker and that's very clear from all the data we've got. But, certain things haven't allowed us to progress as much as what I would have liked, and I think as we all would have liked as a team.

"Some of those issues I just highlighted a lot here in Bahrain just because of the nature of the circuit. So I'm still confident when we go to certain circuits we were very fast at last year, like going back to Suzuka and things like that, I'm confident we can still be one of the best cars.

"Bahrain has just not suited our car ever, necessarily. And exactly for that reason, I think that's why we're going to struggle a bit more here. But I'm confident we can turn it around later down the line."

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