Lando Norris was happy with McLaren’s practice pace at the Belgian Grand Prix – but is concerned about how competitive Renault appear to be.
McLaren’s most obvious target this season is to retain fourth position in the constructors’ World Championship standings behind Mercedes, Red Bull and the much-improved Racing Point team.
In a direct fight with Ferrari at present, the Woking-based outfit were much stronger than the Italian giants on Friday at Spa-Francorchamps. But the worry for them is Renault coming up on the rails if they can put a full race weekend together.
Renault have certainly had their moments this term and there was another for Daniel Ricciardo in FP2 as he set the second fastest time before having to park up on the Kemmel Straight with a hydraulic issue that was later reported to be nothing serious.
Norris and his team-mate Carlos Sainz were pleased with their own Friday performance but are aware of how strong a rival Renault could potentially be.
“It was a good day, probably a better start than in Spain last time,” said Norris, who finished P10 and P7 respectively in the two sessions.
“I think we’re a bit closer to the top, compared to Mercedes, than we thought. Our relative pace to them is closer than normal. But they will probably turn it up tomorrow and be a long way ahead again, most likely.
“Renault are still four tenths ahead of us though so it’s not amazing. I think we have a bit of work to do but the car is feeling good, it feels nice in the long runs and the short runs and I feel confident. So far so good.”
The 20-year-old Englishman knows there is still plenty of water to flow under the bridge before the points are issued on Sunday, however.
“I think the rain will play a bit of a part tomorrow and maybe on Sunday,” said Norris. “Although we have good confidence I think anything can still happen. I did some mistakes today which could have put me much closer.
“Anything can happen here. Last year I qualified P11 and by the time I came out of Turn 1 I was P5. I’ll be aiming for that again.”
Sainz was P8 and P9 and added: “We look decent, we are happy with our performance today, it’s just that the Racing Point and Renault look too quick for comfort at the moment.
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