With Ferrari sitting just 3.5 points behind McLaren in the Constructors’ Championship, Lando Norris says the SF21 is ‘obviously quicker’.
The battle between McLaren and Ferrari in the constructors’ standings is starting to get juicy, with the Scuderia closing the gap drastically after their double points finish at the United States Grand Prix. While Lando Norris and Daniel Ricciardo both scored some valuable points for McLaren over the weekend, it wasn’t enough to stop Ferrari from closing in.
Early in the season it was clear that McLaren had the upper hand over their old rivals, however, a late season resurgence from Ferrari has seen the Maranello outfit charging up the standings.
The SF21’s increased speed on track has been the biggest noticeable factor in closing the gap to McLaren, thanks to upgraded power units. The car’s handling also appears to be superior to the MCL35M, with the McLaren car still struggling during slow tight corners and long bends.
The five remaining races for 2021 will likely see the advantage chop and change between the two competitors, with Norris acknowledging the swing in power towards Ferrari this late in the season is not ideal.
“I think Ferrari was quite obviously quicker than us,” Norris said after the United States Grand Prix. “Maybe it doesn’t look it because Carlos [Sainz] was just stuck behind Daniel but if Carlos was ahead of Daniel, he would have pulled away the same as Charles [Leclerc] did, so we’ve lacked pace all weekend comparing to the Ferraris.
“They definitely have the edge at the moment. Not quicker in every place but just a car which is more consistent than us and more driveable. But that doesn’t change the way we’ll try and keep pushing to stay ahead. It’s not what we want so late in the season, we’ve got to try and do something more to get back ahead of them.”
While it does provide for good entertainment, a fight this close in the constructors’ standings is something McLaren would have liked to avoid. After securing the ‘best of the rest’ title in 2020, it is the team’s intent to hold onto it for consecutive years.
However, with the momentum that Ferrari have picked up since the summer break, they may just prove to be the thorn in McLaren’s side when it comes to them retaining third place.
“It’s a reality they’ve made a good step forward with their package, also down to the upgrade they introduced on the power unit side,” McLaren Team Principal Andreas Seidl said to Motorsport.com. “And that gave them a good advantage, especially in these last two races compared to us, so that’s the reality we are in.
“But at the same time, it’s simply important to focus on ourselves; we know that there’s no upgrades coming anymore on the car side or power unit side. We know that there’s tracks coming that will probably play a bit more to the strengths of our car, but there are also tracks at the end of the season where we will struggle compared to Ferrari.
“It’s simply important we extract each weekend the maximum out of the package as it is, execute clean weekends, clean races, have a good strategy and then hopefully that’s enough to battle them until the last lap in Abu Dhabi.”