Norris trailed both Fernando Alonso and Esteban Ocon in second practice at Portimao.

The Alpine duo ended the day in fifth and sixth respectively, while Norris could only manage 12th overall, over 0.5s slower.

When assessing McLaren’s rivals for this weekend’s grand prix, he wasn’t surprised by Ferrari’s level of competitiveness but conceded Alpine will pose a serious threat this weekend based on Friday practice.

F1 Portugal 2021 | Full FREE PRACTICE RESULTS | Portimao Circuit

“I hope so, but Alpine was very fast today,” Norris said. “We know Ferrari are quick, so if they are ahead of us it’s not a surprise. But we had a big gap to the Alpine cars the last two weekends and this weekend they seem a lot more competitive, so it makes the chance to get into Q3 a lot more difficult, two more cars we might be racing.

“So it’s exciting but it makes our life a bit more tricky and a bit closer, so it’s going to be tough.”

Norris didn’t give too much away to where the McLaren MCL35M was losing out relative to the opposition.

“The wind made it quite difficult for everyone,” Norris added. “I think it was a good day. We got through a lot of things, we had a few problems here and there in P1 and P2, so I didn’t do as many laps as I wanted to do.

“We have a good understanding but we’re struggling with the car in some areas of the track. In some, it’s pretty good, but some areas were quite weak and quite slow.”