Alpine seem to have 'rattled' Lando Norris with their recent performances
McLaren driver Lando Norris has been “rattled” by Alpine according to their sporting director Alan Permane, after the Briton called out his own team for their underperformance.
Alpine are 13 points ahead of McLaren in the constructors’ standings, but Norris is surprised that the two teams are still so close.
Norris has several times in recent races said that he believes Alpine has made heavy weather of the fight that his McLaren squad and its closest rival are having over fourth place in the F1 world constructors championship.
The Briton reckons that considering the pace Alpine has shown with its A522 car this season, it should have wrapped things up long ago.
Speaking at the Japanese GP, where Alpine retook fourth spot, Norris said:
"They are so much quicker than us. I have no clue how we are still fighting them in the championship. They are in another league to us at the minute. I'm happy we've been able to fight them so far into the season, it shows we've done a very good job in other areas, in reliability, in maximising our performances, taking opportunities, and not making mistakes. They must have done a lot worse than us in all of those areas to only just be ahead of us in the championship with the car they have. Not a surprise, it's not a big fight at the minute because they are so much quicker, but we'll keep trying and limit the points loss to them."
Sporting director Alan Permane said:
"Lando loves to keep quoting that, doesn't he? But we only need to just be ahead. I'm not quite sure why he keeps on: I guess we've got him rattled.
We're much more focused on Mercedes and trying to beat Mercedes. We're trying to get ourselves onto that sort of level."
Alpine's points haul this season has been dented by reliability problems, which included a double DNF at the Singapore Grand Prix. However, Permane says he is hugely encouraged by the progress the team has made in pace terms.
"Of course, we had a huge setback in Singapore. But I think in Japan, it's all back to normal.I imagine that in the next races we can do the same. The car is clearly getting quicker. And I think it's getting closer to those top guys. After every race, we look at where we are in terms of percentage wise away from pole and things like that, and I'm sure we are closer than we've ever been this season. So it's definitely going in the right direction."
Although Permane says:
"The team cannot get too complacent about thinking McLaren is beaten, it says that it ultimately does not matter if it beats its rival by one point or many. I would much rather go into Abu Dhabi 40 points in front of them than one point in front of them. But, after Abu Dhabi, I don't care if we are one point or 40 points clear. Fourth is our target. As long as we are fourth, that's really what counts."