Lando Norris has outlined what he thinks is achievable for McLaren in 2023 following the team’s launch of the MCL60.
The 23-year-old put together a highly impressive campaign last season, scoring the majority of points for McLaren and consistently finishing in the top ten.
Norris’ performances have seen his value in the driver market grow, prompting the Woking-based squad to take decisive action and secure his services on a multi-year deal.
Aside from the history and legacy of the McLaren name, the is pressure mounting at Woking to repay Norris’ faith in their project.
Zak Brown, the team’s CEO, hopes that completing the team’s new wind tunnel will be the final piece of the puzzle necessary to compete at the front of Formula 1.
This assumption is not without foundation, given that McLaren is investing heavily in improving its facilities and infrastructure.
However, it seems overly optimistic to assume that a new wind tunnel will immediately result in improved performance – especially within the space of a few years.
Team principal Andrea Stella has already explained the MCL60 has weaknesses to address, with the team not fully satisfied after its winter development.
A development program is already being planned to rectify these areas of concern, with McLaren set to introduce an update package at Baku.
It would be a stretch to make overly pessimistic conclusions about McLaren’s 2023 performance purely based on this information.
Still, Andrea Stella’s target to become established “as part of the top four” seems indicative of relatively lukewarm expectations within the team.
Speaking with Sky Sports, Norris was unwilling to make any ambitious predictions:
“I think it’s too early to tell anything. I think, realistically, we believe we’ve taken a small step forward and improved in some areas. But it’s the same, probably, for most teams.
“We still have things in the pipeline we’re more confident in, those things we haven’t had this winter or for the development of this car.
“So small steps forward, continuing in the right direction, for now, is our strategy…
The Briton was also asked if he believes that a World Championship is possible at McLaren before the end of his contract.
Christian Horner confirmed last year that Lando Norris briefly held talks with Red Bull, a development which has only heightened the scrutiny on McLaren’s trajectory.
Norris was never guaranteed a Red Bull seat, but his willingness to secure a long-term deal with McLaren – a team firmly in the midfield – has been questioned.
Ultimately, the next few years in Woking will determine if this loyalty will be rewarded.
In any case, despite the uncertainty surrounding the team, Norris is confident Championships will eventually be possible:
“I wouldn’t have signed such a long contract if I didn’t believe in that. It’s still a big ask. We still have a lot of work and progress to make.
“But I have faith – at least for ’24 and especially for ’25 – that I’ll have much better chances than what I’ve got now and what I’ve had in the previous seasons.”