Lando Norris set for FIA punishment as a result of McLaren's car woes

Lando Norris is likely to incur a grid penalty at some point this season as his first engine of the year is already “finished”.

McLaren couldn’t have had a much worse start to the new Formula 1 season. In Bahrain, Oscar Piastri had to retire just 13 laps into his debut with an electronics fault, while Norris spent much of his race in the pit lane with a pneumatic problem which needed to be managed.

To make matters worse for the Brit, the effects of those engine problems are likely to be felt again later this year. The power unit in question cannot be used again, meaning he has just two internal combustion engines left for 22 more race weekends in 2023.

Norris has also taken a new turbocharger, MGU-H and MGU-K for the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix this weekend. None of those changes will incur a penalty on this occasion, but it will be very difficult for him to avoid that fate later in the year.

“I took a whole new engine because the other one is finished already,” the Brit told reporters. The McLaren reliability issues somewhat masked their car performance and race pace, which was slightly better than expected.

The midfield looks extremely tight in the early weeks of this new season. Norris is aware of just how close things are, but is optimistic that this weekend can be a much better one for himself and his team.

lando norris set for fia punishment as a result of mclaren's car woes

Norris has new engine components fitted to his McLaren in Jeddah this weekend

But he is also mindful that there are others who are also looking strong. He said: “It’s close – I think me to last place was split between two-tenths [in Friday practice] so if I made a little mistake, I was in last place.

“It’s just very close, the midfield. Alpine are up the road on the whole midfield pack, so they’ve done more to their front. And even Williams seem a lot quicker than us too.

“It feels alright, to be honest, the car. I’m struggling a bit with overall balance but we’re just doing the best with what we’ve got.”

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