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Zak Brown

Brown dismisses Norris McLaren concerns

Lando Norris has stated that McLaren is a long way off rivals Red Bull and Ferrari but Zak Brown is more optimistic over its pace ahead of the new season.

Brown Bahrain Testing
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McLaren Team Principal Zak Brown is encouraged by McLaren's pace ahead of the new season following its performance at pre-season testing in Bahrain.

Twelve months on from its disastrous start to last season that saw it languish toward the bottom of the pecking order, McLaren is expected to start the upcoming campaign in a much more competitive position.

Successful in-season developments last year lifted the car up the field, allowing the team to become a consistent podium contender over the second half of the campaign.

Lando Norris, who is entering his sixth season in F1 with the Woking-based squad, has suggested the MCL38 is currently positioned far off the pace of Red Bull and Ferrari.

Brown, however, was more optimistic about its pace following the conclusion of Bahrain testing.

“[It was] certainly a lot better than last year's test,” Brown said. “We learned a lot about the car. We had a few issues here and there, but I suspect everyone in the pit lane did.

“That's what testing is for, to understand where you might have some weak points.

“It looks like we've got good one-lap pace, we've got good race pace. I'm never quite sure what everyone else was up to.

“It's a general sense that we’re pretty competitive and it feels like we're there or thereabouts to where we finished last year, which is what we wanted coming into this year.

“Hopefully, the developments we have will continue to work, which I'm sure they will.”

Victory on the agenda

McLaren ended last season fourth in the Constructors' Championship, with Norris bagging seven podiums to rookie Oscar Piastri's two.

It marked a significant turnaround in form and Brown has backed his squad to continue the development pace to challenge for a race victory.

“Everything we're seeing in the development right now continues to look good,” Brown added.

“I think hopefully we can stay on the development pace that we're on and if a team or two blinks, then maybe we can turn one of those six second [place results] we had last year, nine podiums, into one of those top steps which is certainly the ambition that we have.

“We'll be bringing stuff every race but we'll have our fair share of significant upgrades over the year - your wings, your floors, your bodywork - as we did last year.

“I don't see any reason why the development curve can't continue as it is. It was a good test and we're looking forward to the race next weekend.”

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