Lando Norris said over the radio after he and Oscar Piastri finished second and third at Suzuka: "Double podium! Two of us up there. We're coming. We're coming for Red Bull"; only Red Bull have outscored McLaren in the last seven races
Tuesday 26 September 2023 06:11, UK
Lando Norris says he is "excited for the future" at McLaren after their resurgence picked up another gear with the team's first double-podium finish for two years at the Japanese Grand Prix.
Norris finished second in both legs of F1's Singapore-Japan double header and now has four runner-up finishes this year, as many as Sergio Perez in a season absolutely dominated by Max Verstappen in the other Red Bull.
After crossing the line ahead of third-placed team-mate Oscar Piastri, Norris said on team radio: "Incredible job all weekend. Double podium! Two of us up there. We're coming. We're coming for Red Bull. Let's keep up the work!"
Asked by F1 if the message about Red Bull reflected growing belief inside McLaren heading towards 2024, Norris replied: "Absolutely. We're not miles away. We're beating one of them already, just not the faster one.
"To be where we are now, I didn't think any of us were expecting it or even thinking it at the beginning of the year.
"So we are definitely taking where we are, we are taking our podiums, and are taking our double podium.
"But we know we still have a lot of things we can improve that we are going to improve and in such a short amount of time from the beginning of the year we have been able to turn things around massively and start to close the gap comparing to every other team to Red Bull.
"So, I think that's a good sign and it's only been one year of a good amount of progress and we know a lot of things to come. So I'm excited for the future."
|1) Red Bull
|5) Aston Martin
Sky Sports F1's Bernie Collins:
"The turnaround has been really fantastic to see.
"They have obviously worked really hard together and there's a really strong team there.
"Zak [Brown, McLaren's chief executive] has continued to build that team. New wind tunnel, new simulators coming on line. So you have think that they are going to continue to get stronger. It's going to improve and improve, I think.
"They had a really rubbish start to the year but for them to be able to turn that around, work together… those drivers are developing that car, where the strengths and weaknesses are, how to bring the team forward, and that line-up can stay together for quite a long time going forward. So, it's exciting for those guys."
Having made giant strides in development since pre-season testing when the team admitted they had not reached their aerodynamic targets with the new MCL60, McLaren and are now just 49 points behind fast-starting Aston Martin for fourth place in the Constructors' Championship with six races left.
Aston Martin's advantage over McLaren had been 146 points after the season's first nine races.
Andrea Stella, McLaren's team principal, is pleased with progress but struck a realistic note of caution when asked about their chances of truly taking the fight to constructors' champions Red Bull over the remainder of this season.
"A step too far. In fairness at the moment it looks it's Max one step too far," Stella said after Verstappen finished 19 seconds ahead of Norris in Sunday's Suzuka race.
"There is a variability of tracks left in the season but none of these tracks has the Singapore characteristics [where Red Bull struggled].
"So while there could be some tracks in which we could be competitive - I think Qatar should be a decent track for us - I'm afraid the characteristics we like they are also the characteristics where Red Bull will be just outstanding.
"So we will have to be realistic that we will need some situations to happen to be able to make the final step."
Asked about the ongoing work in the factory on the 2024 car, Stella replied: "At the moment we are encouraged by the development we see on next year's car.
"At the same time, I guess that's the same for everyone because right now some concepts are starting to be quite clear across the paddock. We don't know whether we are developing faster than other teams, and above all we don't know whether are developing faster than Red Bull.
"But let's not forget Mercedes realised what they need to work on and I suspect they are going to jump back quite strongly.
"There are no factual elements at this stage to stay to say this is the pecking order we will see next year. Things can evolve."
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