Lando Norris ‘expecting pain’ for longer with McLaren ‘long way off’

Lando Norris ‘expecting pain’ for longer with McLaren ‘long way off’
The McLaren drivers says the teams problems won’t be solved immediately

Lando Norris says he is “expecting pain” for the foreseeable future with McLaren, whose 2022 Formula 1 car is a “long, long way off” the pace of the early frontrunners.

Ferrari and Red Bull tussled for victory at the season opener in Bahrain on Sunday, with the Scuderia earing a 1-2 victory at the chequered flag after Max Verstappen and Sergio Perez retired from the race due to late engine failures.

Charles Leclerc was fasted in qualifying on Saturday and took a thoroughly deserved third victory of victory of his career ahead of team-mate Carlos Sainz, while Lewis Hamilton earned a surprise podium for a lacklustre Mercedes.

McLaren, meanwhile, started with drivers Norris and Daniel Ricciardo in 13th and 18th respectively, and dropped further down the order on race day with a mediocre car which had the pace of a certified backmarker.

22-year-old Norris has little confidence that the team’s issues will be solved in the immediate term.

“It’s just where we are, quite simply,” he explained. “We just have to get a little bit used to it now. Of course over the last few seasons, [there has been] just a lot of expectation from us within the team, and also everyone else watching and so on.

“We just haven’t got it right at the minute. We’re a long, long way off — not just a little bit, we’re a long way. We’ve got to start fresh and figure some things out. I’m just trying to find solutions, and solutions doesn’t mean next week we’re going to be amazing. But in months to come we need to understand what’s going on here and how to get better.”

McLaren have been on the up in the past few years, and took their first victory since 2012 with a 1-2 of their own at Monza last September. Between 2015 and 2018, though, the team was one of the slowest on the grid and struggled to battle for points. Norris believes that experience can help them turn things around now.”

“We’ve been in this position a few years ago,” he said. “I’m hoping we can remain more optimistic that the team and everyone back at MTC can figure things out and we can get back on track.”

The second race of the 2022 Formula 1 season takes place this Sunday at the Jeddah Corniche Circuit in Saudi Arabia.