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McLaren Gains Ground Ferrari Still Fast Before Suzuka

McLaren Gains Ground, Ferrari Still Fast Before Suzuka

04/04/2024

Ahead of the Suzuka race, McLaren shows improvement in their performance, closing the gap with competitors. However, Ferrari’s speed still poses a significant challenge, keeping the racing dynamics highly competitive and intriguing.

Lando Norris is hopeful for a successful weekend at Suzuka, where McLaren F1 is notably anticipated to make a significant showing. The British driver asserts that the team is already in high spirits thanks to their podium finish in Melbourne two weeks ago.

“It helps, not that we needed it, but it’s always welcome. The team had a very good weekend, and it’s a morale booster for everyone, so yes, it was a good weekend,” Norris stated, believing his team has maintained the momentum from the end of the 2023 season.

“We did that, Ferrari took a bigger step forward, and kudos to them. But our gap to Red Bull has narrowed, and our lead over the others has widened, so we’ve done a good job.”

“We aim to be closer to Red Bull, but Ferrari was strong last year. They are still very fast, and even though we were the second force on average at the end of last season, there were plenty of races where we were slower than Ferrari. Therefore, Ferrari has made progress in fast corners, and they have an excellent car.”

“They have been among the best in slow corners for years, and we have the opposite problem. We are good in fast corners, we always have been, and we struggle in slow corners, which we are trying to fix. But I am happy, I am confident in our progress.”

Can McLaren win in Japan?

Norris does not yet see McLaren competing for victory, but he thinks the team can be the second force in Japan: “If we can validate what we had in Australia, that’s perfect.”

“Red Bull is ahead, Ferrari as well, but we will be able to compete with them. But if we can challenge them when we get the chance, that’s what we want to do. However, there are slow corners here, and Ferrari is incredibly fast in those.”

Oscar Piastri hopes to continue with another pleasant surprise at Suzuka: “Compared to other tracks, it’s not that different in how it suits us. We were surprised by our competitiveness in Melbourne and hope to be positively surprised here.”

“It was a good track for us last year, and I think other teams, especially Ferrari, will be stronger this year than last. But we should be quite strong here. How strong, remains to be seen.”

A “mutual” confidence between Piastri and McLaren

Piastri has signed a contract extension with McLaren, and he explains that he was reassured by the team’s progress with its mid-season development last year. This gave him the necessary confidence in his team, and he is pleased that this confidence is reciprocated.

“The way we developed in the second half of last year was quite remarkable. I’m not saying this just because I’m a McLaren driver. Last year, we saw two teams make this kind of progress.”

“Aston Martin, from 2022 to 2023, made a monumental step forward, and so did we, around the middle of the season. The fact that we were able to do that reassured me that I was in the right place and that we are now one of the top teams.”

“They gave me an opportunity under rather difficult circumstances, and such things do not go unnoticed. I think we are really on the right track to becoming a winning team again. It has been mutual as well.”

“It wasn’t just about me asking if we could sign for several years. It was about a mutual understanding of extending this contract. It’s nice to have that mutual trust.”

Piastri “realizes the luck” he has

Asked about his motivation and the pleasure of being in Formula 1, the Australian recalls that he is fortunate to be at this level of motorsport, and that’s what drives him: “I’m doing a job that, frankly, isn’t one.”

“I drive cars, and not just any cars, the fastest cars in the world, and I get paid for it. If you can’t realize how lucky you are, I think something’s wrong with you. For me, that’s motivation enough to be able to do it.”

“There are certainly sacrifices along the way, and it doesn’t come without making big decisions, that’s for sure, especially if you come from Australia, or if you’re coming from the United States, South America, anywhere in Asia, you all have to go to Europe, at one point or another, to be successful.”

“That’s just the way it is. We all make our own decisions, but for me, it has obviously paid off, and I’m able to do what I want in life. That’s definitely what gets me out of bed every morning and keeps me going.”

McLaren Gains Ground, Ferrari Still Fast Before Suzuka. McLaren Gains Ground, Ferrari Still Fast Before Suzuka

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