Norris rejects Russell’s claim McLaren is ahead of Mercedes after F1 test

Lando Norris has dismissed George Russell’s claim that McLaren is ahead of Mercedes in the Formula 1 pecking order after the first test in Barcelona.
(L to R): Lando Norris (GBR) McLaren and George Russell (GBR) Mercedes AMG F1 in the FIA Press Conference.
(L to R): Lando Norris (GBR) McLaren and George Russell (GBR) Mercedes AMG…

F1’s first test with the all-new 2022 cars took place at the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya over the last three days.

Norris headed the timesheets on the opening day of the test, while Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc took to the top on day two.

Mercedes showed its hand on day three with both Russell and teammate Lewis Hamilton taking to the top of the timesheets on Pirelli’s softest compound.

At the end of the second day, Russell highlighted Ferrari and McLaren’s turn of pace by saying: “Some teams, a red team and an orange team, in particular, look very, very competitive.”

In the FIA press conference on Friday afternoon, Norris responded to Russell’s comments, with the pair present alongside Pierre Gasly.

“George obviously topped the timesheets [on Friday morning] so if he thinks we’re strong, we’re going to think he’s strong,” Norris said. “I think if there’s any team on the grid right now that you expect to be at the front when it matters it’s going to be Mercedes and probably Red Bull.

“No, I don’t think we’re in an amazing place. I think we’re in a good place. We had a car which as soon as we put it on the track worked well and of course, there’s always some new things and some unexpected issues here and there but it’s been a good start. It’s been clean.

“We’ve worked on our programme, we worked through the things you want to work through and of course, it’s the first time we really get to compare things to the simulator and the simulations we’ve had for the last two years or so. It’s been productive, we’ve made a lot of progress.”

Since Norris’ arrival at McLaren in 2019, the Woking-outfit has enjoyed a respectable rise back to competitiveness after several difficult seasons with Honda.

Like Ferrari, McLaren is pinning its hopes on the new regulations as a way of toppling Mercedes and Red Bull, who enjoyed a significant advantage last year.

Norris feels that McLaren still has “a lot of work to do” if it is to run at the front this year.

“Mercedes never look that good in testing until they get to the first race,”  Norris added. “If they’re good in testing it probably means they’re going to be incredible by the first race. I think everyone’s got their own programmes and so on.

“Of course, everyone’s had different fuel modes, power modes or whatever. Like George said, we can see a picture. I think we’re in a decent position but then, Mercedes, Ferrari have looked very good since Day 1. They’ve been top of the timesheets every single time and their long-run pace looks good. Ferrari look very, very strong but Mercedes and Red Bull are right there with us but if anything, I’d say a little bit ahead of the moment.

“Personally, I feel like we have a lot of work to do if we want to be fighting with them but that’s expected. I think we feel good about ourselves with the car we’ve brought to the track so far this season but we know there are still many things for us to improve on to be at the level they’re at.”

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