Norris reveals first Mercedes PU ‘finished’
By Ian Parkes
Saturday 18th March, 2023 - 10:00pm
Lando Norris has been placed further on the backfoot for this F1 season after revealing his first Mercedes power unit is “finished”.
The McLaren driver endured a tortuous opening grand prix in Bahrain a fortnight ago as he was forced to pit six times due to a pneumatic issue with the PU before ultimately finishing two laps down.
Ahead of this weekend’s race in Saudi Arabia, Norris’ MCL60 has taken on a completely new PU – internal combustion engine, turbocharger, MGU-K and MGU-H – as well as an exhaust system.
Norris has revealed the initial PU cannot be salvaged. “I took a whole new engine because the other one’s finished already,” said the British driver.
The 23-year-old does not incur any penalties for the event at the Jeddah Corniche Circuit as the changes are within the permitted allocation before grid drops are imposed.
Jeddah midfield “very close” – Norris
For the race by the Red Sea, it appears as if Norris faces a difficult weekend in his bid to score points.
After finishing bottom of the timesheet in the first practice session, Norris was then 12th quickest under the lights in the more representative FP2, 1.1s behind pacesetter Max Verstappen in his Red Bull.
The field is congested, however, with less than half a second separating 10th quickest Carlos Sainz in his Ferrari to Valtteri Bottas who was last at the end of FP2.
After getting through his run plan in which McLaren “tried different things, trying to make the car feel better”, he said: “It’s close.
“The split between me to last place was two-tenths (in FP2), so if I had made a little mistake, I’m last place, so it’s just very close, all the midfield.
“Alpine are up the road on the whole midfield pack, so they’ve jumped more to the front, and even Williams seems a lot quicker than us, too.
“It (the car) feels alright, to be honest. I’m struggling quite a bit with the overall balance, but (I’m) just doing the best with what we’ve got.”
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