McLaren claimed the top spot today, as the second and last session of winter testing got underway. British rookie Lando Norris clocked the best laptime of the day, 1’17’’709, just 6 thousandths clear of runner up Pierre Gasly of Red Bull.
Norris racked up a total of 80 laps, which does not sound as satisfactory as Gasly’s 136 or Magnussen’s 131. In fact, the Briton was thwarted by two stoppages, which cost him some mileage today. The first happened just before the lunch break and was caused by a loss of hydraulic pressure, as the team clarified at the end of the session. The second one, on the contrary, still needs to be investigated to find the flaw that sparked it.
However, Norris feels content with the work he completed today, stating that he also perceives an improvement in his confidence with the MCL34.
“On the whole today was a good day, although we didn’t get to do quite as much running as we wanted. We’ve improved the car slightly since last week, especially on the longer runs, so we’re going in the right direction, which is positive. It’s important that we keep doing that.”
At winter testing it is always mandatory to get a better understanding of the car in the least amount of time. As for his acquaintance with the new McLaren race car, Norris said: “Overall, I’m feeling more prepared. I now have one last session in the car on Thursday, to finalise everything before Australia.”
All teams and drivers are making the most of the last days of testing before the season kicks off at Melbourne. McLaren clearly started on the backfoot last year, as a result of the late power unit manufacturer change that the team officialised at Singapore. Other than fitting issues and overheating problems, the Woking-based team did not bring an utterly innovative package, which turned out to be ominous to a very poor development rate.
Although the team is undergoing a silent revolution, affecting the engineering side as well, the MCL34 does not appear to be as problematic as its predecessors. Plus, new technical director James Key will have the chance to express himself on this car, as if it was a blank canvas. Therefore, if McLaren keeps up the work as it did at testing, it will have a solid benchmark to work on for the remainder of the year.
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Lando Norris tops the times on Day 1 of the second test