Norris and McLaren confident despite low-key start

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On a day largely overshadowed by the changeable weather conditions in the Ardennes, it was a low-key start to McLaren’s Belgian Grand Prix campaign – but Lando Norris insists that he isn’t worried.

The British driver was eighth fastest in first practice, over a second off the top time set by Valtteri Bottas. he slipped to ninth after lunch, but was actually closer to Max Verstappen’s benchmark time.

But the 21-year-old was still looking and sounding confident as he discussed his day after the end of practice.

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“I’m happy with the first day back,” he said. “Obviously, everyone’s getting back into it a little bit, but it was a positive day.

“We made some good improvements with the car, we tried some things between sessions and I think we have a good direction to explore overnight so we can go into FP3 and qualifying with a slightly better car.

“It’s been tricky, especially with the weather, but I’m confident that we have a good enough car to bring the challenge to the competition tomorrow and get a good result in qualifying.”

His team mate Daniel Ricciardo was out of the top ten in both sessions and looking forward to making improvements on Saturday.

“It’s sometimes a little hard after a holiday but it was really nice to be back in the car. I enjoyed it, and I think this track is fun as well, so that helps me get excited.

“Our performance on the soft tyre wasn’t great but I think we have a good understanding why, so I wouldn’t say I’m concerned about today’s times,” he said. “It was pretty decent on the hard.

“We made some steps with set-up, so we’ll try to make a bit more of a step tonight and learn a bit more. It was a steady day. We avoided the rain for the most part, so we’ll see what happens tomorrow.”

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“It looks like we’re in the midfield mix as usual,” summarised McLaren executive director Andrea Stella. “Overall we’ve had a positive Friday.

“Tonight we’ll be analysing the data we’ve gathered to make sure we optimise all the details to be as competitive as possible in qualifying and in the race.

“Spa is always an interesting and challenging circuit,” he added. “It’s a tough place to race but we’re looking to score good points this weekend.”

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