Norris has said on several occasions in recent races that he believes Alpine has been superior in the battle between his McLaren team and the French for fourth place in the constructors’ championship. The Briton feels that, given the pace his rival has shown in his A522 this season, he should have settled for fourth place long ago.
At the Japanese GP, where the Enstone riders regained fourth place, Norris said: “They’re so much faster than us. I have no idea how we keep fighting them in the championship.”
“They’re in a different league than us at the moment. I’m glad we’ve been able to fight them so far as it shows we’ve done a good job in other areas, in reliability, in getting the most out of our performances, in take advantage of opportunities and not make mistakes”.
“They must have done a lot worse than us in all those areas to be very little ahead of us in the championship with the car they have. It’s no surprise, there’s no big battle at the moment because they’re so much quicker, but we’ll keep going.” trying it and we will limit the loss of points with them”.
At Alpine they cannot explain why Lando Norris continues to insist on that line, saying that his main objective now is to be ahead of Mercedes in the remaining races instead of simply beating McLaren.
Sporting director Alan Permane stated: “Lando [Norris] loves to keep saying that, doesn’t he? But all we need to do is stay ahead. I’m not sure why he keeps insisting. I guess we’ve made him nervous.”
“We are much more focused on Mercedes and trying to beat Mercedes. We are trying to get to that level.”
Alpine’s points haul this season has been hampered by reliability issues, which included a double retirement at the recent Singapore Grand Prix. However, Permane says he is very encouraged by the progress the team has made in terms of pace.
“Of course we had a big setback in Singapore,” he said. “But I think in Japan everything is back to normal, I imagine in the next races we will be able to do the same, the car is clearly faster, and I think it is getting closer to the top guys.”
“After every race we look at where we are in terms of percentage away from pole and things like that, and I’m sure we’re closer than ever this season. So we’re definitely going in the right direction.”
Although Permane says the team can’t be complacent thinking they’ve already beaten McLaren, he says in the end it won’t matter if they beat their rival by one point or many more.
“I’d rather come to Abu Dhabi 40 points ahead than one point. But after that event, I don’t care if we’re one point ahead or 40 points ahead. Fourth place is our goal. As long as we’re fourth, that’s what we want.” really counts.”