Lando Norris believes Aston Martin has made its car less competitive with every upgrade and that Ferrari is now McLaren’s target with four races left in the Formula 1 season.
The disqualifications of Lewis Hamilton and Charles Leclerc from Sunday’s United States Grand Prix moved Norris up a position to second place in the final classification in Austin, and cost Ferrari points. The result allowed McLaren to move ahead of Aston Martin into fourth in the constructors’ championship, and slightly close the gap to third-placed Ferrari to 80 points.
“It’s our target,” Norris said. “I think we’re in a we’re in a good rhythm. It’s been clear that Aston… I don’t know, they seem to have managed to make the car slower and slower with every upgrade that they’ve bought. I mean, (Red Bull) were racing Aston in the beginning of the year and I don’t know where they finished (in Austin), but they were out in Q1 and then they’ve been struggling, so I don’t know what their issues are.
“They were very strong, they had a lot of points in the first half of the season and in the second half they’ve been struggling, and for us it’s vice versa. So I think the main thing is that when you look at where we were, how bad Bahrain was for us, how many seconds off pole we were, my six pit stops in the first race of the season, I lost my PU straight away…
“There are things that put us on the back foot from the beginning and when you look at where we are now, to be fighting against a Red Bull – which was an unrealistic target for almost anyone – and fighting against a Mercedes… As much as we are disappointed that we can’t go for a race win, when you put it in perspective of where we were and how much we’ve improved, I think it’s still an amazing day for us.”
However, Norris is realistic that the gap to Ferrari will be tough to close as he doesn’t see McLaren having a chance of fighting for a win in any of the remaining four rounds and predicts a tough weekend in Brazil.
“Do I think our best chances have gone? I would say yes,” he said. “I think Qatar was our best chance of winning a race. And I missed out on that one. So I don’t want to say no, I don’t say never…
“But there’s no super high-speed, Suzuka-style circuits left; Qatar-style circuits left which is where we’re strong and if you looked at the GPS and the overlays of how bad we are in the slow speed, I’m not looking forward to Brazil. I think we’re going to be pretty shocking there.”