Lando Norris raises McLaren concern ahead of Bahrain Grand Prix qualifying

F1: McLaren launch car for new season

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Despite impressing in both pre-season testing and Friday’s practice sessions, McLaren driver Lando Norris says he’s been left wrestling with the car that is “tricky to drive.”

The opening race of the Formula One season gets underway at the Bahrain International Circuit on Sunday, with Norris now alongside Aussie Daniel Ricciardo at the team.

Red Bull’s Max Verstappen topped the timesheets in both FP1 and FP2, while McLaren’s Lando Norris was second in the evening session after third in the first.

But Norris admitted to Express Sport that the lap times weren’t representative to how he felt in the car.

“[Friday] was good in terms of it looked good from the time sheets, which is always a nice thing to see, but from within the car, it wasn’t maybe as nice as what time times looked like,” he explained.

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“We’ve got some improvements we need to make over the next couple of days, well I guess overnight really and going into qualifying, because it was a tricky car to drive.

“It was maybe quick at some points obviously, but not consistent enough and not giving me the confidence that I want.

“A bit of a mixture, but the conditions are going to be changing and wind and so on, so it’s not all about Friday, qualifying on Saturday and the race is where the wind is probably going to be changing the most, so we need to think about these things and take them into account, and take it step by step.

“[Friday] was a good first day in the car of course, but we do have a lot of work to do overnight and improve on stuff from today.”

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Norris heads into his third year as a Formula One driver, and his third also with current team McLaren.

And he admitted that could be why he is more astute to picking up on issues with the car, which switched from a Renault to Mercedes this season.

“A little bit, I think every driver wants confidence, no matter what day it is in Formula One, whether it’s their first day or last day, and almost it’s the opposite you know,” he added.

“The first day in a Formula One car you want the confidence and if you’ve got 15 years of experience in Formula One you can get away with a bit less confidence because you kind of have more experience with what might happen, how to drive around with problems, and so on.

“I think I just wasn’t comfortable simply because the car was just tricky to drive. It wasn’t easy to do the lap times that we did, and it’s as simple as that. – I don’t think it needs to be complicated anymore, just driving around the track it was difficult to do those lap times every single lap and difficult to extract more lap time if you wanted to.

“It’s just trying to make it nicer to drive, give me the confidence to really push on the car and find those extra two tenths that we’re going to need when we get to qualifying. I didn’t feel I could do that today.

“Everyone wants confidence here and there, today I just didn’t have that confidence to find that last bit of lap time that we will need when it comes to qualifying.”

Qualifying for the first race of the 2021 season gets underway Saturday at 3pm.

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