RACE DEBRIEF

    Pre-season testing kicks off in Barcelona on February 19 – and it can’t come soon enough for McLaren’s Lando Norris, who revealed just how excited he is to take the wheel of the upcoming MCL35.

    Norris excelled in his debut season in 2019, impressing with his mature performances and earning the fans’ vote as Rookie Of The Year, as McLaren enjoyed a renaissance that saw them take fourth place in the constructors’ fight, their highest finish since 2012.

    READ MORE: Sainz thriving in supportive McLaren environment - Brown

    In an interview on McLaren's website, he said: “I’m itching to get back in the car, especially this year.

    “I was [excited] last year, but I was a lot more nervous at this point in 2019 with all the new things I had to contend with: rules, information, strategies, ways of working, everything really. Whereas now, I know a lot of this stuff. I feel more relaxed and not so nervous. Instead of wondering whether I’m ready for the first race, this time I know I am and that’s why I’m so excited.

    Instead of wondering whether I’m ready for the first race, this time I know I am and that’s why I’m so excited

    Lando Norris

    “Formula 1 is such a complex sport,” he added. “There are so many factors which impact performance, and while you can study them, you cannot properly understand them until you’ve experienced them. For example, managing the tyres, knowing when to push and when not to push, and how to respond to a rapidly changing strategy.

    “You’ve got to think about the long game in races and that gets easier with experience.”

    READ MORE: Norris ‘confident’ McLaren can make another step in 2020

    Another key factor that should make Norris even more comfortable in the coming campaign is the fact that McLaren’s new MCL35 will be the first car tailored to his and team mate Carlos Sainz’s exact requirements.

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    “This is the first year that I’ve had a lot of input in the car,” he said. “The MCL34 was designed in 2018, and although I drove in a few sessions that year, I didn’t have much direct input into it. But, for 2020, a lot of the MCL35 has been influenced by what Carlos and I have asked for.”

    Fans will get the first chance to see the MCL35 on February 13, when McLaren launch the car at their Working headquarters, before heading to Barcelona and the Circuit de Catalunya for the start of testing on February 19. Tickets for testing are available here.

    DIARY DATES: The 2020 F1 calendar, pre-season testing details and F1 car launch schedule

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