Lando Norris has expressed concern he will not make it into the top-10 shoot-out in qualifying for the Portuguese Grand Prix after claiming McLaren is being out-paced by its F1 rivals around the tricky Portimão track.
Norris, who had the speed for a front-row spot at the last race in Imola but saw his time stripped for a track limits transgression, had hoped to be back on the pace again this weekend.
But after suffering “a few problems” in Friday practice he said: “I didn’t do as many laps as I wanted to do but we have a good understanding, we are struggling a bit with the car in some areas of the track.
“Some areas it’s pretty good, but some areas we’re weak and quite slow. We definitely have some obvious areas to work on for tomorrow so we will try to improve as much as we can.
“We’re not confident of being inside the top 10 to get into Q3 so it’s a bit tougher than we expected, a bit tougher than we want, but we have overnight to try to make some improvements for qualifying.”
Norris has qualified seventh in both of this season’s races so far but the fight for places behind the leading Mercedes and Red Bull cars is tight, with Ferrari, AlphaTauri, McLaren, Alpine and Aston Martin all in the mix.
McLaren is currently third in the standings thanks, in part, to Norris’ fourth place in the season opener and his podium third in Italy, but he is conscious that this weekend he may face even more competition.
“Alpine was very fast,” he added. “We know Ferrari are quick. If they’re ahead of us it’s not a surprise, but we had a big gap to the Alpine the last two weekends. This weekend they seem a lot more competitive.
“Two more cars we might be racing, so it’s exciting but it makes our life a bit more tricky and a bit closer. The car balance isn’t maybe quite as good as the past few weekends so we definitely have a bit of work to do.”