[Norris rejects Alonso’s “silly” suggestion that McLaren F1 is overconfident
After securing a double podium result behind dominant winner Max Verstappen last time out in the Japanese Grand Prix, McLaren is now 49 points behind fourth-placed Aston in the teams’ standings, with Mercedes and Ferrari ahead in the fight Red Bull has already sealed.
Until June’s Spanish GP, Aston sat second in the constructors’ contest as it consistently ran as Red Bull’s closest challenger during the season’s early phase, while McLaren did not score until round three in Australia – before the fight to be best-of-the-rest got much more mixed and McLaren joined that fray after significantly improving its MCL60 car, while Aston’s AMR23 lost its previous good form.
After finishing second at Suzuka, Norris said he “definitely” thought his McLaren team could catch Alonso’s Aston squad, as he previously “didn’t think it was that close” and with there being six races of the campaign remaining.
When asked about Norris’s position in the pre-event press conference for this weekend’s Qatar GP, Alonso acknowledged that McLaren has “the momentum for sure” and has been “quite fast” of late, but predicted the fight between the two teams, plus Ferrari and Mercedes, would swing again before the end of the season.
“Every weekend we see ups and downs for everybody,” said Alonso, who drove for McLaren in the controversial 2007 season, and again between 2015-18. “They were very strong before the August break – in Austria, in Silverstone
“I think they were both [Norris and his team-mate Oscar Piastri] close to being on the podium in Silverstone and then in Zandvoort we were on the podium and they were struggling a little bit.
“So, it’s good if they are overconfident. Let’s see if we can beat them in Abu Dhabi [2023’s final race].”
Fernando Alonso, Aston Martin F1 Team
Photo by: Zak Mauger / Motorsport Images
Shortly after the press conference at the Losail circuit, Motorsport.com put Alonso’s comment to an initially disbelieving Norris.
“He says that we’re getting too confident? How many points did we catch [back up] last weekend? Quite a few,” Norris replied.
“Over 20, I think [it was 33, with Aston scoring four at Suzuka after non-scoring in Singapore, where Norris also finished second].
“So, unless his maths is deteriorating, which it definitely isn’t… Fernando is just Fernando – he’s always going to say things. He always makes himself look very good or makes other people look bad. He’s very good at that.
“But I don’t think we’re overconfident in any way. I think we’re the last people who have ever been overconfident in saying anything. Especially myself.
“But I thought we were a lot more points behind, so for us to be then 49 [back] with six races still to go [and] two cars performing well – they struggle at the minute to have two cars up there in Q3 [or] up there at the end of the race – then I would say it’s silly for him to think the opposite.
“But he’s a smart guy, he’s not silly in any way. So, I’m confident we can do it just because if we can have more P2s and P3s and things then, yeah, just of course it’s possible.”