Norris downplays prospects of a Silverstone repeat for McLaren in Hungary

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Lando Norris played down expectations of a strong result for McLaren this weekend at the Hungaroring, despite his stunning second-place finish in Silverstone.

The heavily upgraded MCL60 looked at home at the British Grand Prix’s fast, sweeping bends, qualifying second and third and finishing second and fourth, with Oscar Piastri missing out on a maiden podium thanks only to the timing of the safety car.

Further upgrades are due on the car this weekend, completing a three-race update cycle that Norris said was the largest he seen in his Formula 1 career. But despite the positivity around McLaren’s big step forward into the front-running pack, the Briton is anticipating tougher going in Budapest, where he doesn’t expect the circuit’s slower layout to play to the car’s strengths.

”No matter what the outlook of it all is, we’re not very good in the slow speed,” he said. “I doubt it’s going to be as good as Silverstone, because there are not high-speed corners. I think the last two tracks have made us look better than where we stand over the whole season.”

Norris is preserving some optimism, though, given the Hungaroring’s recent resurfacing has produced a grippier surface, while ever-increasing downforce loads in Formula 1 have also raised the minimum speed of most corners. Combined, the track has become more medium speed than slow speed. But that also means McLaren will be forced to wait for a sterner examination of its slow-speed bona fides.

“I don’t think this is the true test,” he said. “I think it’ll be a good test, mainly because it’s not high speed.

“I don’t think this is a bad track for us. The tarmac we have here is a grippy tarmac. The corners are quite long corners — which I would also say is not our strength — but even if you say slow speed, they’re not super slow speed. So I think we’re going to have bigger tests of how bad it is going to get at some other tracks that are going to be coming up.”

Norris also pointed out that some of the car’s most significant slow-speed problems weren’t down to aerodynamics alone but more fundamental dynamic issues.

“It’s aerodynamics … but at the same time it’s a handling characteristic which I would say is not all to do with aerodynamics,” he explained. “Even if, say, we had the same load as the Red Bull in slow speed, I don’t think we have the right balance of car in slow speed, which I think is also a limitation for us.

“I don’t think it’s just about looking at aerodynamically how we perform but also mechanically, and tying everything together and coming up with little tricks and things that some other teams have to accelerate low-speed performance.

“Even with this upgrade we’ve had, the performance of driving the car, the handling, has not got any better. It’s still just as difficult to drive, as difficult to execute qualifying laps with. So for me a bigger step would be improving how we drive the car, how easy it is to drive the car, rather than just adding 10 more points of load in slow speed, because that’s only going to get us so far up the order. Red Bull have both.”

Norris, who tends to take a glass-half-empty approach to the car’s competitiveness, said the broader picture of the MCL60’s potential is keeping feet on the ground at Woking despite recent strong results.

“I don’t think anyone has a spring in their step at all,” he said. “We also know not going to happen that often at all.

“We enjoyed the moment for sure, but we know we’re not competing for wins or even podiums or even close to that very often. A lot of things went right for this to happen — even though we should’ve had a P2 and a P3.

“I think the confidence came from knowing we took a good step in the right direction. That’s just where people gain confidence that we were able to improve the car in some of those areas. But I don’t think anyone’s got overconfident in any way.”