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Formula 1 Monaco GP

Why McLaren's biggest F1 weakness may not hold it back at Monaco

Lando Norris thinks McLaren's "biggest weakness" will not be a big factor in holding back its victory chances at Formula 1's Monaco Grand Prix.

The McLaren MCL38, with a special Senna themed livery

McLaren's cars have recently excelled in high-speed corners but have not been as strong as its main opposition in the low-speed stuff.

Although the characteristics of the MCL38 have slightly changed with its latest upgrade – which has improved its performance in slower corners - the team is not yet a match for Red Bull in this area.

With Monaco being the slowest circuit on the F1 calendar, on paper, it could be one that McLaren may have low expectations for.

But Norris believes that with the team not needing to factor in setting up its car for the high speed at all, Monaco's characteristics are not something it should be afraid of, even if he accepts it could still be a little on the back foot.

"It's still our biggest weakness," he explained about low-speed corners. "Even if you look to Imola, you look at turn 7, it was still our worst corner. The chicane, still one of our worst corners.

"I don't think we're bad. When we're saying it's our biggest weakness, we're talking about maybe half a tenth at times and that kind of thing. But Monaco, you set up only for slow speed, nothing else.

"I think that's where maybe it plays a little bit more back into our hands, but it's just not as far-fetched as what it is in some other circuits."

Norris has faith that the progress McLaren has made over the past 12 months, which was especially transformed by the upgrade package that started coming on board from the Austrian GP, puts the team in a much better position than last season.

Lando Norris, McLaren F1 Team, is interviewed

Lando Norris, McLaren F1 Team, is interviewed

Photo by: Sam Bloxham / Motorsport Images

"Last year was not our best year in terms of delivering here in Monaco," he said. "We've not been bad here in the past and we've clearly improved a lot since then.

"We didn't have our upgrade here last year, so a lot of things have improved since then. We've definitely improved slow speed as well. I'm hopeful that it can be a good weekend."

Norris's team-mate Oscar Piastri reckoned that the closeness of the fight at the front of F1 made it hard to be sure how McLaren would fare against others here.

"It's very hard to know until you get out on track," he said. "Obviously the back end of last year we were very strong in high-speed corners, but this year I would say some others have caught up to us in that area.

"I would say we've made good gains in the low-speed, and in circuits where we've maybe struggled in the past, we've been a lot better. Miami was a great example of that.

"I think we can be pretty optimistic. There's never a guarantee with any of these things about being quick, or on top of things, but I think our strengths are definitely becoming more well-rounded and hopefully we can show that this weekend as well."

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