Despite new regulations in 2022 designed to tighten the pack, McLaren find themselves in a battle for fourth in the Constructors’ Standings and, ahead of the final nine races of the season, are four points behind Alpine.
But while no Alpine drivers have finished in the top-three on race day, Norris secured an impressive third place at the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix, capitalising on Charles Leclerc’s mistake to stand on the podium alongside the Red Bull duo of Max Verstappen and Sergio Perez.
It was Norris’ sixth podium of his Formula 1 career and the Brit now admits it was “one of his best podiums” given the performance gap between this year’s McLaren and the leading trio of Red Bull, Ferrari and Mercedes.
“I still don’t know how I got a podium with the car that we had!” Norris told Autosport.
“It still blows my mind, considering how much quicker a lot of the other cars were. Like now, when I think of it, I think it’s probably one of my best podiums.
“[In] wet qualifying, it was a pretty awesome lap in quali, but when you see the speed of the Alfa Romeo, it was like, half a second a lap quicker than me in the race. If we did a race of just pure pace, I’d probably be like 15th or something! But I finished on the podium.
“It makes it that bit better. It was good to see that we made some improvements, we were going in the right direction, and that always gives you more motivation, more hope, and it’s something you look forward to in the future. That was definitely a good thing, and just good to see that we could turn things around fairly quickly.”
Norris is currently seventh in the Drivers’ Standings, the ‘best of the rest’ behind the leading six drivers in the three quickest teams, on 76 points.
But the highly-rated 22-year-old is yet to record a race win in Formula 1 despite coming close, most notably in Sochi last year before spinning out in wet conditions.
McLaren recorded a one-two at Monza last year, with Daniel Ricciardo coming home to win, but Norris’ teammate position on the team next season is under threat amid rumours McLaren have a deal lined up for Alpine test driver Oscar Piastri.