McLaren is optimistic that Lando Norris will be able to secure his first Formula 1 victory in 2024, stating that he is fully prepared.
According to McLaren’s team leader Andrea Stella, Lando Norris has the potential to secure his first Formula One victory this season, if the team can provide him with a strong and competitive car. However, both Stella and McLaren’s CEO, Zak Brown, warned that Red Bull could once again dominate the races.
Stella addressed the team before revealing the new design of their car, the MCL38, at the Woking headquarters. She expressed confidence in their latest model and in British driver Norris’s ability to potentially win his first F1 race in his sixth season in the sport.
In the previous year, McLaren started the season at a slower pace. However, after receiving upgrades in Austria, their performance significantly improved, allowing them to regularly compete for podium finishes. Lando Norris was able to take advantage of this and achieved the second highest number of points after Max Verstappen. Stella commented, “When we analyze the results from Austria onwards, Lando is the second highest scorer. This demonstrates his exceptional driving skills and ability to deliver, placing him at the forefront of the grid.”
The initial triumph holds the greatest significance, making subsequent successes more attainable. Our inability to consistently place Lando in a position to win has been the main obstacle. However, he is prepared for that level of competition; it’s now up to us to provide a car that enables him to capitalize on opportunities.
During the previous season, Norris and his teammate Oscar Piastri achieved a total of nine podium finishes, with Norris securing six second place spots. This helped their team secure fourth place in the constructors’ championship. Their car showed continuous improvement and Stella expressed confidence that there was even more potential for this year. He made it clear that they were not anticipating a decrease in progress from the advancements made last season.
The team has successfully utilized the recently launched wind tunnel and simulator facilities in 2023 to develop their new car. They have also gained a valuable addition to their team with the arrival of Rob Marshall, who was recruited from Red Bull as the technical director for engineering, and David Sanchez, who was hired from Ferrari as the technical director for car concept and performance.
Stella’s recommendations could potentially enhance the already positive growth trajectory that they experienced in the second half of 2023. The team plans to capitalize on the various performance potentials of the car, suspension, tires, and aerodynamics within the current regulations.
Despite this, there is a widespread anticipation that Red Bull, who dominated 21 out of 22 races last season, will continue to be a major contender. Their dominance was so significant last year that they stopped working on upgrades for their car as early as August, instead focusing on this year’s model. This demonstrated their immense confidence in maintaining their lead over the competition.
Stella observed that they were now in a favorable position to take advantage of the progress made on this year’s car. Brown also expressed concern that this progress could potentially make Red Bull unbeatable once again. “Our goal is to continue closing the gap. Last year, we finished as the second or third fastest team, depending on the track,” he stated. “Our car development has been impressive, but it appears that Red Bull did not reach their full potential last year, so it could be a surprise for all of us.”