McLaren driver Lando Norris says the Woking-based team are “not miles away from Mercedes and Red Bull.”
McLaren are off to a good start in defending their ‘best of the rest’ title from the 2020 Formula 1 season.
Norris would go on to finish fourth, while Ricciardo managed seventh, after a collision with Alpha Tauri’s Pierre Gasly.
The MCL35M looked like a strong contender during pre-season testing, with the team working through only a handful of issues. None of which were major in comparison to some of their rivals.
But, while we are only one race into the F1 season, it is still too early to tell just where McLaren will sit in the pecking order. However, one thing is for certain, the team seem to have closed the gap to the top two teams of Mercedes and Red Bull.
“We’re close, we’re not miles away from Mercedes and Red Bull comparing to last season,” Norris said, while speaking with motorsport.com. “I think we’ve closed the gap quite a bit and hopefully at some tracks close it even more.
“It’s hard to say if we’re easily best of the rest, I don’t know what the pace of the Alpha Tauri was like, but I think the car is good.”
McLaren, Ferrari or Alpha Tauri?
At this stage, the teams looking likely to challenge McLaren for third in the Constructors’ Championship are a resurgent Ferrari, and the ever-improving Alpha Tauri.
After what could only be described as a disastrous year for Ferrari in 2020, the Scuderia appear to have vastly improved on their former power unit. With a noticeable increase to performance during the Bahrain GP.
While Red Bull’s junior team, Alpha Tauri, are on the up and up. Pierre Gasly and rookie Yuki Tsunoda look to be quite the formidable pairing and should bring in a healthy haul of points for the team.
Slightly down the list we have Aston Martin and Alpine. Again, while it is still far too early to have gained a reasonable insight into the performance of all the teams. After one race, they are both lagging behind their midfield competitors.
“I think we’ve got an understanding of what [Ferrari] can do,” Norris continued. “Even last year Charles was ahead of us in qualifying and the Ferrari can be very quick in qualifying. During the races they seemed to struggle.
“I think we were just clearly quicker on pace, which was a good thing, but there’s going to be some races probably where they can look after the tyres better and be much quicker.
“It’s going to go backwards and forwards between us and Ferrari and with Alpha Tauri it seems pretty close between us, so I’m looking forward to the battle.”