Lando Norris has explained why McLaren appeared to struggle more during the later stages of the 2021 F1 season, with one reason being a "coincidence" of how the races were scheduled.
The team looked promising at the beginning of the year, particularly in terms of Norris' performances. During the first half of the calendar, the Briton achieved three podium finishes, and for a time held third place in the World Championship standings.
He also had a strong run of consecutive points finishes, which was only broken through his retirement from the Hungarian Grand Prix, where he was caught up in the first corner melee through no fault of his own.
The second half of the year, though, seemed to prove more difficult for McLaren. After the high point of their 1-2 finish at the Italian Grand Prix, Norris did not finish above seventh in any of the remaining races, and the team were beaten to P3 in the Constructors' Championship by Ferrari.
Later tracks on 2021 calendar didn't suit the McLaren well
Speaking to select media including RacingNews365.com, Norris explained that one of the key reasons why McLaren appeared stronger in the early stages of the season was that the races simply suited their car more than those held later in the year.
He also feels that conditions sometimes favoured them at certain tracks.
"I think that most of it has just been that there were only certain circuits [where] we were actually very strong," Norris said.
"[The] Red Bull Ring [at Austria] was obviously one of them. Sochi [the Russian Grand Prix] was another one. I think if it was a completely dry weekend, and Mercedes were 1-2, we still would have been probably one second off of pole.
"So it looks much better, because conditions were tricky, and in qualifying, Mercedes did a terrible job but we did a good job. I did a good job, and then it made things also look a lot better.
"And it wasn't necessarily because the car was amazing. So I think there was just a couple of races early in the season, where every year we're very strong. There's less corners than any other circuit [at these tracks], as well.
"But then lately, the tracks genuinely haven't suited us as well, and that's just a coincidence, that there's more in the beginning of the season than the end which suit us."
Ferrari's pace moved forwards in comparison to McLaren
Another reason why McLaren seemed to slip back, Norris says, was due to Ferrari's progression throughout the 2021 season.
The Scuderia appeared to improve as the year went on, allowing them to get ahead of their championship rivals in the Constructors' battle.
"Our pace, probably relative to P1, is quite similar," Norris explained.
"But our pace relative to Ferrari... Ferrari have gone forward, and Ferrari comparing to the leaders have gone forward.
"So I think we're in a very similar position, but Ferrari have moved forward, especially with the power unit upgrade. It made a big difference for them. And then the tracks where we are bad are also ones where Ferrari are a little bit stronger.
"It's quite simple, like how you put it together, then all of it makes sense. It makes us look worse, although we're probably doing exactly the same effort and the same performance every weekend.
"So these simple things can just make us look good or bad, and make people change their perspective of us."
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