The U.S. Grand Prix went very well for McLaren, Lando Norris managed to get ahead of Charles Leclerc on pole into Turn 1, but he didn’t have the pace to keep Max Verstappen behind. He still managed to grab P2 after Lewis Hamilton’s disqualification, but the high-speed nature of the circuit was the last to favour McLaren for the remainder of 2023.
Sunday was “still an amazing day for us” according to Norris but securing a win in 2023 looks unlikely with Qatar being their “best chance.”
“Do I think our best chances have gone? I would say yes,” Norris said. “I think Qatar was our best chance of winning a race. And I missed out on that one.
“I don’t want to say no, I don’t say like never. I think there’s no super high-speed, Suzuka-style, Qatar-style circuits left which where we’re strong.
“I don’t think they’re any good ones for us coming up. I think our best have gone. I just want to be hopeful that we can do good results and I think we can still fight for podiums but these guys are too quick for me.”
Why does Norris feel this way? What is it about McLaren’s package that has Norris feeling pessimistic? The car is weak in low-speed corners, something that all four remaining races feature.
“If you looked at the GPS overlays of how bad we are in the slow speed [areas], I’m not looking forward to Brazil,” Norris explained.
“I think we’re going to be pretty shocking there. Vegas and Abu Dhabi are probably the better ones.”
Every team (with the possible exception of Red Bull) have areas that need improvement. Ferrari has issues with tyre degradation, Alpine have issues with reliability, and McLaren have issues at low speed.
Team principal, Andrea Stella, said that Austin’s Turn 11 hairpin highlighted how much the car struggles.
“Braking into Turn 11 and then traction out of Turn 11 was the most problematic phase from a car performance point of view,” Stella explained.
“It was no surprise, it is to do with bumps and with braking and traction in two very low-speed corners, where we said already that we know the car doesn’t perform very well.
“It has been addressed in development but there is no turnaround in this season to fix this.”
After the U.S. Grand Prix, McLaren have overtaken Aston Martin for fourth in the Constructors’ with a seven point lead.