Fernando Alonso has suggested that McLaren may be “overconfident” in their pursuit of Aston Martin in the constructors’ standings – a comment that has drawn a response from Lando Norris.
A characteristically outspoken figure throughout his F1 career, Alonso may have just started the mind games during Thursday’s driver press conference at the Qatar Grand Prix. McLaren have enjoyed a dramatic turnaround in form in 2023, culminating in a double podium last time out in Suzuka.
“Obviously they have the momentum, for sure,” said the Spaniard when asked about McLaren’s belief that they can surpass Aston. “And they’ve been quite fast. But every weekend we see ups and downs for everybody.
“They’ve been very strong before the August break in Austria and Silverstone. I think they were close to being both on the podium in Silverstone. And then in Zandvoort, we were on the podium and they struggled a little bit.
“So, it’s good if they’re overconfident, and let’s see if we can beat them in Abu Dhabi.”
While Norris and McLaren have previously said that they can overtake Alonso’s squad in the standings, the British driver rejected the notion of “overconfidence”.
Norris on Fernando Alonso McLaren comments: “Fernando is just Fernando”
The McLaren driver shunned Alonso’s thoughts of complacency when quizzed about the Aston ace’s comments.
“How many points did we catch up last weekend? Quite a few,” said Norris, via Motorsport.com. “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.”
What is the current state of play in the Constructors’ standings?
Aston Martin are in fourth on 221 points. They lead McLaren by 49 points – however, the Woking-based squad have enjoyed spectacular results since the summer break.
In the last four races, Aston have taken 25 points. Meanwhile, their chasing rival has scored 69. This large difference in accumulated points – and with six races remaining in 2023 – means the fight is well and truly on.
“I thought we were a lot more points behind,” admitted Norris. “So, for us to be 49 [back] with six races still to go, two cars performing well… They [Aston] struggle at the minute to have two cars up there in Q3, up there at the end of the race – then I would say it’s silly for him [Alonso] to think the opposite [that McLaren cannot catch Aston].
“But he’s a smart guy, he’s not silly in any way. So, I’m confident we can do it. If we can have more P2s and P3s and things then, yeah, just of course it’s possible.”
The collection of medium-high speed corners at the Lusail Circuit means that McLaren should be on for another strong weekend – although you can never count out Fernando Alonso from pulling a performance out of nowhere. He also has pedigree in Qatar, earning a podium at F1’s last race there in 2021.
This crucial Constructors’ fight between two British teams should go down to the wire.
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