McLaren’s Lando Norris says he accepts he’s not as “tough on the outside” as Red Bull’s Max Verstappen, who is currently caught up in an intense title battle with Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton. But Norris “doesn’t think you have to be” tough to become a world champion. Norris has been one of the standout performers this season, picking up podiums, a maiden pole, and coming agonisingly close to a maiden Formula One win in Russia, but in recent races has fallen away from the top three in the standings, currently sitting fifth.
Regardless, the turn in McLaren’s form has put them in good stead to hit the ground running in 2022, with Norris alongside Daniel Ricciardo once again.
When asked if his experience this season has him ready for a potential championship fight next season, Lando responded to journalists including Express Sport: “I don’t know, I’m maybe not as tough on the outside as what Max [Verstappen] is, say.
“But it depends, I don’t think you have to be, there are certain scenarios where it’s good to be, but I don’t think it’ll always change the outcome to things, just looks aggressive from the outside.”
With just two races to go before the end of the season, McLaren have also dropped behind in their fight with Ferrari for third place in the Constructors’ Championship with the Italian team taking a 39.5 points lead going into the inaugural Saudi Arabian Grand Prix.
“I definitely feel much more confident that if I was to fight for a win suddenly in the first race next year, especially after being in the position I was in Russia, I think I’d feel very confident in that position,” Norris added.
“Of course I’d still be nervous and whatever but I think I’ll be a lot more confident than if I didn’t have the year I’ve had this year and experienced some of the things I’ve experienced this season. But I feel much more confident of knowing what I’ve got to do when I’m in that position. So I think from that side I’m ready for it.
“But I guess you never know how much better you’re going to do, as a lot of it depends on the car and things like that. Sometimes you’ve got to be lucky, sometimes you’re unlucky. I worked hard over the winter to make a lot of these improvements. One thing that made me very happy is seeing the improvements actually quite obviously have an effect and take place and show straight away in terms of results.
“Predominantly from a driver confidence, driver mentality point of view, I feel very confident. Whether that means we’re going to do well or not [next year], we’ll just have to wait and see.
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“From how I feel and what I’ve learned and things, then I feel like I can continue and make some improvements over the winter again and go into next year starting off how I feel like I’ve ended, which is still better than how I started this season. But the circumstances will just be so different in next year’s car. Maybe you’ll need different driving styles and things like that, as it’s going to be a very different car.”
But Norris believes they still yet have the fight in them to chase down Ferrari over the next two races to finish on a high in 2021.
“When they brought their power unit upgrade, for sure that has helped them,” he continued. “They were very good on energy before and so they have a lot of deployment, which in some circuits doesn’t make a massive difference and at some circuits definitely helps, because when we are clipping on the straight and we lose 20kph they just keep going.
“It makes a big difference in terms of how you can race them and overtaking and stuff.
“And of course they have a bit more power. Power is a lovely thing, it just makes you quicker, no downside. So definitely when they had that, they took a little step forward. I think it has been very close all season.
“I still believe we have done a better job as a team, I think there have been more races where they have been quicker but just made more mistakes than us, so they should be further ahead.
“But it is tough,” added Norris. “If I look at it from the drivers’ championship point of view, it’s only just but I am still ahead of both of them.
“Of course I want the team to be up there, but I feel like I have done as much as I can to help out on that side of it.”
Published at Wed, 01 Dec 2021 13:44:05 +0000