Lando Norris believes the Formula 1 midfield fight is “much more equal than what everyone thinks” and racing in rivals’ dirty air masks the full potential of each team.

McLaren’s double points finish at the Brazilian Grand Prix, highlighted by its first podium in over five years with Carlos Sainz promoted to third place after Lewis Hamilton’s post-race penalty, has seen the Woking-based team secure fourth place in the F1 world constructors’ championship.

Despite winning the F1 midfield fight with one race to spare, Norris feels each team involved in the battle behind the top three are closely matched compared to how the points have played out in 2019.

But having had the stronger qualifying performances across the season, Norris feels it has allowed the McLaren drivers to not only gain track position but also profit from running in cleaner air - a problem all teams have struggled with the current generation of F1 cars which the sport has aimed to address in the 2021 rules shake-up.

“I think when it comes to the race, comparing our race pace to Racing Point, now, and Renault, I think it’s much more equal than what everyone thinks. We don’t have an advantage,” Norris said.

“I think just because we qualify well, everyone thinks we should have a good car in the race, but it’s not like that.

“I think we’ve been good in qualifying, which is a good bonus for us because it sets us up well for the race every time, and always in a good position. You can have clean air every now and then. We’re able to not show as easily our weaknesses, or it kind of hides because we have clean air and the others are stuck behind us.”

Norris feels that effect is something which hurts his McLaren car equally when he is behind the well-matched midfield rivals.

“But when it’s vice-versa, so then we struggle a lot more, and then we realise we’re not quicker than they are when they’re following us, that kind of thing.

“We have a good qualifying car, and we still have very good points about the car, but there are also weaknesses that also show more in the race.”

Norris has moved to within one point of breaking into the top 10 in the F1 drivers’ standings ahead of the 2019 finale in Abu Dhabi with 10th place currently held by Racing Point’s Sergio Perez.

McLaren hasn’t seen both its drivers finish in the top 10 of the F1 world drivers’ championship since 2012 with Lewis Hamilton in fourth place and Jenson Button in fifth place.

 

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