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Norris happy to put first day in MCL60 under his belt

It wasn’t exactly a trouble-free day for McLaren and for Lando Norris, but overall the team and driver were happy with their start to 2023 in pre-season testing at Bahrain International Circuit on Thursday.

“It was a reasonable first day,” said Norris, who is now the senior driver at McLaren. “It was good to be back on track, to get a good number of laps under my belt and to get that first feeling from the car, so I’m happy with that.

“I’m feeling more comfortable in the car and have changed little things here and there to start to optimise a few things. As far as test days go, it was positive and I’m looking forward to going again tomorrow.”

  • Read also: Verstappen edges Alonso to stay in charge on first day of pre-season testing

However reliability concerns forced the team to spend time in the afternoon reinforcing the air deflectors over the front wheels of the MCL60.

That work limited Norris to just 40 laps on track ‘ the lowest of anyone on Thursday, tied with Felipe Drugovich whose Aston Martin suffered an electrical issue in the morning triggering a red flag.

“It wasn’t quite the smoothest of days with a few little setbacks here and there,” Norris admitted.

“But we got through a lot of the plan and some of the key test items, which we can learn from over the next few days as well some changes we can already start to implement.

Lando Norris (GBR) McLaren MCL60. 23.02.2023. Formula 1 Testing, Sakhir, Bahrain, Day One.

“There were some short delays caused by the team wanting to reinforce the bodywork in some places in order to prevent a failure,” explained new team principal Andrea Stella.

“These were preventative measures, but we thought they were useful to make so we could run safely and reliably for the remainder of the day,” he said. “But overall it was a positive day.

“We hope to continue like this for day two and three so we’re ready for the first race of the season,” he added.

Despite that lack of running Norris was still able to post the fifth fastest time of the day, slotting in just ahead of Lewis Hamilton in the Mercedes.

Rookie driver Oscar Piastri had already completed 52 laps on Thursday morning, but he was ultimately only 18th fastest out of the 19 drivers at work in Bahrain on Thursday as he felt his way into his new role after a year away from racing.

Oscar Piastri (AUS) McLaren MCL60. 23.02.2023. Formula 1 Testing, Sakhir, Bahrain, Day One.

“My first morning of testing went pretty smoothly which is a good start to the season,” Piastri said. “We got through the programme we wanted to, which was great.

“It was good to get some laps on the board and everything felt pretty comfy,” he reported. “I’m looking forward to my next few sessions to keep improving and learning more about the car.”

“The focus is on getting myself back up to speed and used to the new generation of F1 cars,” he continued. “There is still a lot to learn and improvements to make, but I think I’m getting there.”

Piastri will be back in the cockpit on Friday afternoon, with Norris taking the morning shift which begins at 10:00 local time, with a break for lunch before the afternoon and evening session ending at night under the floodlights.

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