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Will Mclaren drawback affect Norris’ future? 

The first race of the 2023 season has shown Mclaren’s weaknesses in terms of reliability and aerodynamics. Both rookie Oscar Piastri and brit Lando Norris haven’t been able to qualify in the top ten and achieve any points during the Bahrain Gran Prix. In particular, Norris started in the 11th position but started suffering hydraulic problems and needed no less than six pit stops to cross the checked flag last of the classified runners. 

Lando Norris in one of his six pit stop during the Bahrain Gran Prix. @Mclaren Media Centre

The problems for the English racing team started already from the tests carried out at the beginning of March in Bahrain. They completed the lowest number of total laps, only 312 for all the tests. 

Back in Woking

New team principal Andrea Stella admitted they thoroughly haven’t done a proper good job developing the car regardless of the lack of new wind tunnel.

The wind tunnel alone is not enough to justify the fact that the car is where it is. We could have done a better job independently of the wind tunnel. Now, this is something we are reviewing. Very honestly, I think this is acknowledged and this has actually given us good learning throughout the group for future developments.

Andrea Stella, Mclaren Team Principal

The new infrastructure plus a new simulator will be available later this year but the data obtained may be used to inform some work on late-2023 updates. Its primary purpose will be to assist in later phases of the 2024 car development. The 2025 car will be the first to be designed entirely in the new wind tunnel. At the moment the team leases Toyota’s wind tunnel located in Cologne. This entails packing the parts into a van and dispatching it to Germany.

McLaren is currently focusing on damage limitation while waiting for the upgrade to arrive at the fourth race of the season in Azerbaijan. 

Despite this setback, they are pretty encouraged by what they saw in Bahrain. Especially considering that the track has historically not been favourable to its cars. The team’s race pace was slightly better than expected, which bodes well for its short-term prospects.

Furthermore, David Sanchez, former Scuderia Ferrari head of Vehicle Concept will join the team after a period of gardening leave. The team insists to have faith in James May so Sanchez will presumably join a restructured department in a new role. 

But would it be enough for Lando Norris not to move out from the team?

Despite his four years deal, his contract could have an “exit clause” to make him leave the team if it would be competitive enough to battle the three top teams. 

Up to now Lando Norris is confident Mclaren can bounce back from its first catastrophic gp. Mclaren let him grow and became the driver he is now and whether he could aspire to much more, like his F2 rival George Russell,  he is waiting for his moment of glory with McLaren. 

Imma Aurino

Classe '97, la passione per i motori mi accompagna fin da bambina grazie a mio padre. Studio comunicazione a Torino dopo tante scelte sbagliate, ma almeno questa sembra essere quella giusta.

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