Lando Norris believes McLaren has made a positive step forward with its revised 2018 Formula 1 car but admits it is less forgiving and more difficult to drive.

McLaren introduced a major aerodynamic upgrade to Barcelona as it secured a fifth consecutive points finish this season in the Spanish Grand Prix. Reserve and test driver Norris ran on both days of the first in-season test of the year in Spain and ran both the old-spec and new versions of McLaren’s MCL33. 

The 18-year-old finished third-fastest behind Mercedes’ Valtteri Bottas and Ferrari’s Antonio Giovinazzi with a best time of 1m18.039s on soft tyres, after taking part in a tyre test for Pirelli on Tuesday as McLaren fielded two cars. 

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"There are definitely some differences in the two specs - positive in many ways, but there are still some things with the old one that are also positive, so it's all about combining the two which will make the car even faster,” Norris said. 

“I wouldn’t say there’s many things which are weaker, I think in some ways a bit more downforce with the newer package it becomes maybe a tiny bit more snappy, but overall I could still go through corners slightly faster.

“I think if I did make a mistake it’d be slightly more costly. I think the old one was a bit - not more predictable - but slightly more forgiving in some ways, I don’t think it’s maybe so much the downforce but trying to maximise the newer package.”

Norris’ fastest lap from the two-day test bettered Stoffel Vandoorne’s qualifying lap for the Spanish Grand Prix by 0.3s and was the same margin off Fernando Alonso’s Q3 time, though fuel levels and set-ups are unknown in testing. 

The Briton, in just his third F1 appearance for McLaren having previously driven in tests last year in Hungary and Abu Dhabi, admitted he did not quite push the limits of McLaren’s 2018 car. 

“Jumping from F2 it’s a fairly large step still and does take a bit of time to get used to. There’s definitely things we need to improve and work on, but the car’s still very good to drive, it does give me a lot of confidence and I don't think I'm on the limit yet.

“I think in general it’s a bit more downforce, it’s good for me having the confidence to push at all the high-speed corners, I think overall it’s definitely been a slight step forward.”

Norris leads the FIA Formula 2 championship in his rookie season by 13 points following the opening three rounds of the campaign, which included claiming victory on his debut outing in the Bahrain feature race.

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