Lando Norris could take plenty of positives from his first experience of the 2018 McLaren after the British teenager set the team’s best time of the in-season test in Barcelona on Wednesday.
Norris was in the MCL33 on both days of the test, recovering from a minor spin to post the third-fastest time on day two – behind Mercedes’ Valtteri Bottas and Ferrari’s Antonio Giovinazzi – after conducting a Pirelli tyre test on Tuesday.
The 18-year-old’s best time of 1:18.039 on soft tyres was nine tenths of a second better than what Stoffel Vandoorne had produced on supersoft tyres on day one, although fuel levels and car settings are unknown in testing.
It also bettered Vandoorne’s best Spanish GP Qualifying lap by nearly three tenths of a second and while Norris was three tenths off Fernando Alonso’s Q3 time, his lap bettered the Spaniard’s Q1 and Q2 efforts.
Norris’ test lap vs Alonso & Vandoorne’s Spanish GP Qualifying laps Lando Norris 1:18.039 (softs) Spanish GP Qualifying Q1 Q2 Q3 Stoffel Vandoorne 1:18.885 (supersofts) 1:18.323 (softs) N/A Fernando Alonso 1:18.276 (mediums) 1:18.100 (supersofts) 1:17.721 (softs)
“Sweet couple of days in the MCL33,” Norris posted on social media.
“156 laps, enjoyed every single one! Mucho learnt, good development and ended P3.”
Norris replaced 2009 world champion Jenson Button as McLaren’s official test and reserve driver for 2018 and is the team’s first option to deputise for Alonso and Vandoorne.
Having won the European Formula 3 championship last year, Norris leads the Formula 2 championship by 13 points after three rounds in his debut season, claiming victory in the opening feature race in Bahrain.
The Barcelona test was just Norris’ third experience in McLaren’s F1 car, having previously tested in Hungary and Abu Dhabi in 2017 – and the Briton admitted he was still to fully push to the limit.
“Jumping from F2 is still a fairly large step, and it does take a bit of time to get used to it,” Norris said.
“There are definitely things we need to improve and work on, but the car is still very good to drive. It does give me a lot of confidence to carry the throttle and I don’t think I’m on the limit yet.”
Lando Norris’ career so far
- 2014 – Aged 14, becomes youngest karting world champion by winning the CIK-FIA KF World Championship title, surpassing Lewis Hamilton’s record.
- 2015 – Wins British Formula 4 title with eight wins and 14 podium finishes.
- 2016 – Wins Formula Renault 2.0 NEC, Formula Renault 2.0 Eurocup and the Toyota Racing Series Championship in New Zealand.
- 2016 – Wins prestigious McLaren Autosport BRDC Young Driver Award
- February 2017 – Joins McLaren’s Young Driver Programme
- August 2017 – Posts second-fastest time at Hungary test in debut run in MCL32, only behind Sebastian Vettel
- October 2017 – Wins European Formula 3 title
- November 2017 – Named McLaren’s reserve driver for 2018
- April 2018 – Wins Bahrain Feature Race on Formula 2 debut
- May 2018 – Sets McLaren’s best time of Barcelona test
McLaren brought an extensive upgrade to the MCL33, notably a revised front-wing and nose, for the Spanish GP after an underwhelming start to 2018 and reached Q3 for the first time through Alonso.
Norris ran both the old-spec and new versions during the test and believes if the team can combine the positives of both specs they will be able to find more pace.
“There are definitely some differences in the two specs – positive in many ways, but there are still some things with the old one that are also positive, so it’s all about combining the two which will make the car even faster,” he said.
Barcelona Test best times Driver Team Fastest Lap Tyres 1. Valtteri Bottas Mercedes 1:16.904 Supersofts 2. Antonio Giovinazzi Ferrari 1:16.972 Hypersofts 3. Max Verstappen Red Bull 1:17.528 Hypersofts 4. Carlos Sainz Renault 1:17.562 Hypersofts 5. Sebastian Vettel Ferrari 1:17.659 Softs 6. Lando Norris McLaren 1:18.039 Softs 7. Kevin Magnussen Haas 1:18.274 Hypersofts 8. Nikita Mazepin Force India 1:18.344 Hypersofts 9. Romain Grosjean Haas 1:18.449 Hypersofts 10. Nicholas Latifi Force India 1:18.530 Hypersofts 11. Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 18.543 Mediums 12. Jack Aitken Renault 1:18.942 Mediums 13. Stoffel Vandoorne McLaren 1:18.981 Supersofts 14. Charles Leclerc Sauber 1:18.993 Hypersofts 15. Robert Kubica Williams 1:19.253 Hypersofts 16. Pierre Gasly Toro Rosso 1:19.410 Mediums 17. Antonio Giovinazzi Sauber 1:19.693 Hypersofts 18. Oliver Rowland Williams 1:20.009 Hypersofts 19. Jake Dennis Red Bull 1:20.440 Mediums 20. Sean Gelael Toro Rosso 1:20.763 Softs *Pirelli tyre test times not included
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