Lando Norris: A Rise in McLaren Standards
Since Lando Norris landed an F1 seat at McLaren, he has seen a continuous improvement in his three-year tenure of the sport and helped the team return to competitive form.
Ever since the Briton stepped out into the light of the F1 paddock, he has seen continuous personal growth to become one of the most consistent drivers on the grid – in a time when the Woking outfit needed it the most.
Despite having intense head-to-head battles against his teammate, that would go to the final race of the season. Norris has out-performed his newest teammate, Daniel Ricciardo, in 2021, as the eight-time race winner has struggled to come to grips with the MCL35M.
After a heartbreaking performance in Sochi last time out, it is clear that Norris will be a future race winner and even a potential world champion.
But will McLaren be able to hold onto their main man?
On the back of a horrendous 2017 season, McLaren had some work to do after they finished 9th in the standings – 25 points clear of 10th-place Sauber F1 Team (5pts).
In 2019, Norris and now-Ferrari driver Carlos Sainz were the fresh line-up for McLaren as they replaced Fernando Alonso and Stoffel Vandoorne. By the end of his rookie season, Norris only managed to top 11th in the drivers standings while his Spanish, and more experienced, teammate finished in sixth. The team only managed to secure P4 in the constructors championship, which was two places higher than the previous season.
However, this became the baseline to work from. In the following season, Sainz remained sixth by the end of the year whereas Norris had climbed up to ninth the drivers standings. Exceptional performances from both drivers put McLaren third in the constructors by the end of the season, with Norris’ first podium in F1’s first race of the season (amid the height of the pandemic) and Sainz’s second-place finish in Monza. As a result, they also pipped Racing Point (now Aston Martin) to third in the championship.
The Honey Badger’s Struggle
After the news was released that Carlos Sainz was to replace the outgoing Sebastian Vettel at Ferrari, before the season had even begun, Ricciardo was quickly snatched by McLaren.
With a seven-time race winner joining their ranks alongside an experienced teammate, it sounded like a line-up that would be able to fight for the odd race win here and there. However, with the new 2021 downforce regulations, Ricciardo struggled to quickly come up to grips with the MCL35M.
Norris has outperformed his more experienced teammate 9-6 (in head-to-head qualifying) and beaten him 10-5 in race results.
It may not have been the result he wanted today, but @LandoNorris' strong 2021 season continues ?
He now has just one point fewer this year than his first two F1 seasons ???????? ⤵️
— F1 Experiences (@f1_experiences) October 10, 2021
The Team Comes First
While the Papaya-coloured outfit will need a strong driver to deliver the team their first world drivers championship since Hamilton’s first title in 2008, they also need a team-player: something Norris has in abundance.
After his first appearance on the grid, Norris has proven to be an entertaining character on and off the track but he has shown the team will come first. A picture circulated social media channels, after the 2020 Hungarian Grand Prix, which showed the young Briton helping his mechanics dismantle his MCL35 (the original variant of the 2021 car).
In addition, Norris’ unselfish behaviour also made another appearance in the 2021 Italian Grand Prix when he was told not to overtake his teammate – who was leading the race. Although he would’ve loved to indulge the temptation of his first F1 race win, he obeyed the team order. This allowed McLaren to bring home their first one-two finish since Canada 2010 (Lewis Hamilton and Jenson Button, respectively).
— Tim Bampton (@TimBampton) July 19, 2020
While Mr. Norris has a contract with McLaren that will keep him in the team ‘beyond 2022’ on a speculated £6 million-a-year deal, his impressive start to the season would have put him under the spotlight of watchful eyes in the paddock.
This proved true. It was reported, by PlanetF1, Red Bull tried to sign the British driver before McLaren secured Norris’ loyalty with a multi-year deal.
As long as McLaren remain on their upwards trajectory, it looks highly unlikely the British driver will be easily lured away. The British driver has helped develop McLaren to where they are today and he has every right to reap the rewards: race wins, and potential championships.
On @LandoNorris' mind. ?
We spoke to Lando for #WorldMentalHealthDay about the highs, the lows and the motivations in F1.
Watch exclusively on the McLaren App now. ??
— McLaren (@McLarenF1) October 10, 2021
We hope you enjoyed ‘Lando Norris: A Rise in McLaren Standards.’ When do you think the young British driver will secure his first drivers championship? Let us know!
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