Lando Norris concedes Ferrari had “quite obviously” the quicker car at the United States GP, saying the battle for P3 has tipped in their favour.
McLaren left the Circuit of The Americas still hanging onto third place in the Constructors’ Championship, but only by 3.5s points.
While both MCL35Ms finished inside the points, Daniel Ricciardo lost to Charles Leclerc and Norris was behind Carlos Sainz.
It could have been worse for McLaren had Sainz managed to get ahead of Ricciardo in their wheel-to-wheel battle, with Norris saying the Ferrari driver would have scampered off into the distance.
“I think Ferrari was quite obviously quicker than us,” said Norris.
“Maybe it doesn’t look it because Carlos was just stuck behind Daniel but if Carlos was ahead of Daniel, he would have pulled away the same as Charles did, so we’ve lacked pace all weekend comparing to the Ferraris.”
The Brit believes it is new Ferrari’s upgraded engine that is making the difference out on track.
Ferrari introduced the new power unit at the Russian Grand Prix with Leclerc debuting it before the Scuderia put it in Sainz’s car in Turkey. This past weekend’s United States Grand Prix was the first time both Ferrari drivers ran the upgrade.
“It’s definitely just tipped it in that direction for sure,” Norris said of the new PU.
“They definitely have the edge at the moment. Not quicker in every place but just a car which is more consistent than us and more driveable.
“But that doesn’t change the way we’ll try and keep pushing to stay ahead. It’s not what we want so late in the season, we’ve got to try and do something more to get back ahead of them.”
While acknowledging Ferrari’s improvement, McLaren team boss Andreas Seidl says it is up to McLaren to focus on themselves and do the best job possible each and every race weekend.
“It’s a reality they’ve made a good step forward with their package, also down to the upgrade they introduced on the power unit side,” he told Autosport.
“And that gave them a good advantage, especially in these last two races compared to us, so that’s the reality we are in.
“But at the same time, it’s simply important to focus on ourselves; we know that there’s no upgrades coming anymore on the car side or power unit side.
“We know that there’s tracks coming that will probably play a bit more to the strengths of our car, but there are also tracks at the end of the season where we will struggle compared to Ferrari.
“It’s simply important we extract each weekend the maximum out of the package as it is, execute clean weekends, clean races, have a good strategy and then hopefully that’s enough to battle them until the last lap in Abu Dhabi.”
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