McLaren driver Lando Norris expressed his dissatisfaction with the challenging conditions encountered during the inaugural Las Vegas Grand Prix’s first day. The demanding nature of the new street circuit, with its low downforce requirements, posed a considerable challenge for McLaren’s MCL60 F1 car.
The anticipation of a tough weekend was palpable within the McLaren camp, given their historical struggles on circuits with similar characteristics. The Papaya team knew that this track wasn’t particularly car-friendly, raising concerns about their performance.
As FP2 unfolded, McLaren’s absence from the top ten didn’t come as a shock. FP1 had been abruptly cut short due to an incident involving Carlos Sainz’s Ferrari, which collided with a drain hole cover at speeds exceeding 300 kph. However, the extended 90-minute FP2 session that concluded at 4 am provided valuable data for the team.
Despite the challenging start, Lando Norris remains optimistic about their chances of making significant progress in the upcoming sessions.
Addressing the press following his challenging day and a finishing position of 11th, he remarked:
“Today was a tricky day on a tricky circuit. The grip was poor and it’s easy to go through the tyres quite quickly, which is what we were doing.
“I think we’re a long way off where we’ve been the last few weekends, but probably where we expected. It’s similar to where we were in Monza and other low downforce circuits. It’s a struggle at the minute but I’m sure we can make progress into tomorrow.”
McLaren’s Team Principal, Andrea Stella, disclosed that the team encountered cooling problems with the car before the drivers ventured onto the slick and treacherous track. He further commented:
“It was a shame for teams and spectators alike that we lost the first session, but what happened with the manhole cover is something that we’ve seen before. The FIA reacted well to fix the problem and get us going for FP2.
“We had some issues with cooling the car, which means we lost a little bit of time at the start of the session. We got going relatively soon and got into understanding the behaviour of the car and the behaviour of the tyres. Conditions here are unique, with a unique temperature and unique tarmac characteristics. It’s very smooth and very slippery, which means the cars operate in a regime very different to what we’ve seen in recent races.
“We have work to do to extract more performance – but we gathered a lot of data that we will look at in preparation for FP3. There is performance we can unlock, and we remain positive about the rest of the weekend, but we need to find this improvement because we weren’t particularly competitive today. My thanks go to the entire team who have navigated working on a difficult schedule into the early hours of the morning. We now get some rest ahead of a busy few final days here in Las Vegas.”