McLaren heading 'in the right direction' after solid Bahrain GP practice - Norris

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Lando Norris says McLaren went "in the right direction" after a solid practice day at the Bahrain Grand Prix.

Expectations are low at the Woking-based team after a problematic pre-season test and acknowledgement that the 2023 car performance is currently not where McLaren hoped it would be.

Even so, Norris managed top 10's in both sessions at Sakhir on Friday, ultimately finishing ninth in the more representative FP2.

"I think pretty reasonable," the Briton said describing his day. "I guess we came here with a lot of stuff learned, so we kind of put everything on the car that we know of to set up in the best way.

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"Definitely, it's the best the car has felt all year, or let’s say from the test to now, which is a good sign. We made some steps forward and definitely moved things in the right direction.

"Still more to find for sure," Norris conceded, "but at the same time I felt a bit more comfortable today, I felt like I could push the car a little bit more, definitely the cooler conditions helped us a little bit, but at the same time a productive day.

"We know where we stand, we know what we have to do to make things better and make the car quicker, it’s just not an easy job to do."

What has taken Norris by surprise is just how competitive the 2023 grid appears to be with just 1.8s between first to last in Practice 2, and less than 0.7s covering the top 10.

"I mean, not going to lie, it looks tighter, like a lot tighter than I thought between everyone," Lando admitted.

"I think you still have Red Bull up front, then Aston Martin and Ferrari and then kind of everyone else a little bit after that, so it’s tough.

"I think it’s going to be very close, so I look forward to it. I also don’t look forward to it because I would love it to be easier, but it should make for a good weekend in terms of qualifying and also the race on Sunday should be exciting because of it."