Alpine and McLaren have been locked in a battle for fourth in the championship throughout this season.

In recent races, the French manufacturer has been able to extend their lead with a series of points finishes.

Poor reliability and Norris’ sensational form put McLaren in the fight during the first half of the season but a lack of performance in recent races has put it on the back foot. 

Speaking ahead of Friday Practice at the F1 Italian Grand Prix, Norris explained his view that Alpine have had the fourth quickest car for the majority of the season but McLaren have made fewer mistakes.

“Alpine have been ahead of us pretty much since day one of the season,” Norris said “Like, genuinely have been ahead of us. There’s maybe three or four races this season where we might just have been a little bit quicker than them.

“Otherwise through the majority and quite easily the majority, they’ve been a better car. So, for them to only just be ahead of us in the championship is more we’ve done a very good job, and they’ve done a pretty bad job.

“When you see the margins of qualifying from them to us sometimes, their pace in the race compared to us sometimes, it’s never that much the opposite way round. They have a better car, they’ve just done a worse job throughout the season and made more mistakes, things like that – had more problems with the car, whatever.

“Fernando in Australia was on for what, P2 or P3 in qualifying? And we were miles away. So they’ve had a better car, pretty much all season. We’ve done a better job with the car that we’ve had this year. Now they’re just ironing out a few more of their problems and issues and maybe also improved the car a bit more than we have and taken a few more steps.”

While the majority of the attention has been on Ferrari’s failures this season, McLaren’s drop in performance relative to 2021 has not received enough scrutiny. 

Norris sat ahead of Valtteri Bottas and Sergio Perez for much of the first half of last season, highlighting his own outstanding performances but also McLaren’s.

In the second half of the year, Daniel Ricciardo ended the team’s win drought at Monza, while Norris nearly secured his maiden F1 victory at Sochi.

“In general, we’re not as competitive compared to last season,” Norris added. “Also, everyone else has taken some good steps forward, such as Alpine.

“Competition’s tough at the minute. Ferrari are a long way ahead of us as well. So it’s an extra two cars which we have to get out of the way if we want to be back on the podium.

“I don’t know, I think we’ll still try and give it our all. I think we don’t come into races thinking ‘this is where we were last year, we should do exactly the same’. Zandvoort I personally think was a lot better for us this year than it was last year. So some things are definitely better.

“But it’s obvious, we’ve not had as many podiums and good qualifyings as last year. That’s just simply because the car as a balance throughout the season has not been as good.”