Lando Norris, who recently re-signed with McLaren, is optimistic that the team will contend for races in 2024, but he believes he might have to wait a bit longer to challenge for the championship.
After a technical shake-up, McLaren made a dramatic turnaround last season, going from a team that struggled to gain points to one that consistently challenged for podiums.
Oscar Piastri, Norris’ teammate, won the Qatar Sprint race, but Norris was near to winning McLaren’s first Grand Prix since 2021 on multiple times, finishing in P2.
In line with Piastri’s recent contract, Norris has now decided to stay on board for an additional “multi-year” period, expressing his “convinced” belief that McLaren has “everything we need” to win the championship once more.
In reference to his and McLaren’s aspirations for a championship, he stated, “It’s both the team’s goal and also just a personal goal that I’ve always had.” “Am I certain that I can succeed? Indeed. Do I think the squad has what it takes to succeed? Indeed.
“I don’t think the way we turned things around last year is the only thing that has, in my opinion, convinced me more. It’s just everything that occurs on a daily basis, including the individuals present, their work ethics, mindsets, and methods for approaching everything.
The last time McLaren won the constructors’ title was in 1998, when Lewis Hamilton won the drivers’ championship. Mika Hakkinen and David Coulthard were the team’s drivers at the time.
When asked when he thought McLaren might go on and contend for the championship, Norris said it was “a difficult question” to respond to, but he still thought it was not too far off given the team’s recent momentum.
“Last year, there were times we came very close to winning races, and in a couple of them, we were not too far from a Red Bull,” he said. “When you consider it, the Red Bull was the most competitive car in Formula One history, and we were very, very close in a few races.”
Although we’ve come the closest to winning a race in a long, long time since I’ve been here, competing for a title is a bigger step. I would be more tempted to say that I think I can win races this year, but I believe it takes a different level to win races and a title right away.
It’s a big step for the team as a whole as well as for me personally because I haven’t necessarily raced at the top level in a long time. Everybody at the factory has a varied level of pressure and exhilaration, with mechanics experiencing a different level of both.
“Do I think we’re ready to challenge them?” he said. Yes, without a doubt. In those circumstances, and there have been occasions when we’ve faced off against Red Bull, Ferrari, Mercedes, competing head-to-head in pit stops, strategy, and other areas, and most of the time we’ve done them incredibly effectively.
“I believe that everyone is in a pretty good position when it comes to pressure, but everyone’s mindset just slightly shifts the moment you bring up competing for a title. However, I think I’m prepared to take on Max [Verstappen] and Lewis in a battle.
“Well, I don’t know about [fighting for a] championship. The huge, enormous question mark is whether or not ’26 is an opportunity for everyone on the grid [with the new restrictions], as much as I’d love to say over the next two years. You are welcome to rephrase your question once we assess our performance this year.
On February 14, McLaren will take to the track at Silverstone with their new F1 challenger. They have already unveiled the livery that will be applied on Norris and Piastri’s MCL38s.