Lando Norris says McLaren are 'on the way up' after superb Bahrain GP
Norris and Sainz delighted with start to the season, beating Red Bull "on pure pace"; British rookie now F1's third-youngest point-scorer
By Matt Morlidge
Last Updated: 01/04/19 4:52pm
Lando Norris believes a resurgent McLaren are finally "on the way up" in Formula 1 again after an impressive Bahrain GP.
McLaren delivered two cars into Q3 in qualifying for the first time since 2017 in Sakhir, before British rookie Norris superbly finished sixth in the race to become the third-youngest driver to score points in F1's history.
After four years struggling towards the back of F1's midfield, McLaren's recovery is gathering pace as the sport's 20-time champions look to become a force once again.
"It's definitely on the way up," Norris, 19, told Sky F1. "The steps we've taken from last year, to be two out of two times in Q3, to have opportunities to get into the points and a P6 - we do have a better trend than we did last year.
"We just had better pace than we thought we were going to have. We had a strong qualy but our pace in the first stint was very good, and after that it was still good. We had good pace and I enjoyed it a lot."
Norris added to reporters: "We knew we could get points and we've managed to beat a Red Bull now on pure pace.
"Even compared to Vettel when he passed me, he didn't pull away that much. I hope we can be in these positions later on in the season."
Carlos Sainz was similarly enthusiastic despite his early crash - the Spaniard qualified ahead of Norris and started well before colliding with Max Verstappen when trying to overtake the Red Bull.
"I had better pace than the Red Bull in front and it felt like I was faster than the Mercedes," said Sainz.
"I'm still really hungry about having such a strong car."
'Simple' MCL34 makes progress
McLaren have a new-look driver line-up and team behind the scenes this year, and Norris has praised their work over the winter.
"We've tried to make the car more simple this year," he explained.
"In some ways we've taken a couple of steps back to then try and move forward and we've given ourselves a better platform to start of and that's because of all the hard work of the guys back in the factory.
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"We're taking steps in the right direction but it's only round two. It's a good start to the season so if we can keep taking steps forward, maybe at the end of the year we can celebrate."
Norris expertly held off Kimi Raikkonen, the oldest driver on the grid, to take sixth in the desert on Sunday.
"He definitely had better pace and he had opportunities to get past me but I maximised our car and our potential to stay ahead," continued the Englishman.
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