While Mercedes and Red Bull finished comfortably first and second in this year’s standings, McLaren and Ferrari have both made significant strides in closing the gap to the front of the field.
McLaren scored a 1-2 finish at Monza, while Ferrari took five podiums and two poles during the year as the battle for third place among the constructors moved into the final race of the season.
A strong end to the year eventually gave Ferrari P3 with 47.5 points in the final standings, but both teams felt the fight had helped them for a possible future battle further down the grid.
“I would say it helped quite a bit,” said McLaren driver Norris when asked by Motorsport.com about the benefits of fighting Ferrari.
“Just with that mentality, they keep us on our toes, keep us pushing, trying to find these tiniest bits of lap time.
“It’s easy sometimes to get complacent and distract your mind, especially when you’re alone, the third fastest car with no one in front or behind you.
“There are ways to fall into that trap, so I think it’s been good for us. The same goes for them – not an easy year for them, so I think it’s benefited both of us.”
Lando Norris, McLaren, gives a thumbs up after securing third place on the grid
Photo By: Steven Tee / Motorsport Images
Norris said he believed McLaren had had a “much better season” despite falling from third to fourth in the teams’ standings. McLaren has scored 275 points this season, compared to 202 in 2020.
“I would say it has been a difficult season and I still believe we had a much better season than last year,” said Norris.
“We are closer to the front and the gap with the rest is also much bigger, except Ferrari. It was still a very good season, not only in terms of results and points, but also how we worked together as a team and how we managed everything have maximized.
“I think we’ll be in a better position next year if we race them more often and hopefully the guys up front more often.”
Both McLaren and Ferrari hope to take advantage of the upcoming 2022 technical regulation review to take another step forward that will allow them to challenge the front-runners.
Ferrari sports director Laurent Mekies agreed that the battle with McLaren had helped the team work on its operations and race performances, calling it “our world championship for this year”.
“We really focused on how we can use this year to get sharper and develop as a race team and develop our tools and so on,” said Mekies.
“It’s a very good team to fight against. They’ve had fantastic moments, they’ve won Monza, they could have won Sochi. They are very, very competitive. They are also in very good dynamics themselves.
“So it was a nice challenge. And yes, it is a challenge where you have to make fewer mistakes than them. You have to put more of these little details together if you want to beat them.
“In the end it’s the same thing that happens for the top two positions. It’s the same dynamic. The loss of points costs you the same and that’s why it was good, it’s good training for the team.”