Column | Norris can further cement his placement with Verstappen & Leclerc

Column | Norris can further cement his placement with Verstappen & Leclerc

26 January - 08:15

Lando Norris has been one of the standout names in the recent seasons of Formula One. After claiming three podiums in the 2022 season and with McLaren seeming to be financially set up for the coming regulations, can he meet his peers and perform at the highest level?

Past Seasons

Ever since his promotion into F1 in 2019, Lando Norris has been an impressive performer in the midfield. Placed against the highly rated journeyman Carlos Sainz, some expected him to struggle in his maiden season. However, he showed incredible fight and spirit, reaching his teammates’ level during the following season. 

Following Sainz’s departure from the Woking outfit, Lando Norris was elevated to the role of “team leader”, set as the one to guide the team in terms of development and communication within the team. To match, 2021 was something of a breakout season for the young Briton. Thoroughly beating his teammate Daniel Ricciardo and finishing on the podium three times stood as a magnificent achievement, leading some to believe that he too would soon grace the top step of the podium.

Coming challenges

Teammate Daniel Ricciardo has shown, in the past, that he improves much more in his second season with the team. The Australian overturned a lacklustre 2019 season with vast improvements in 2020, claiming two podiums in three races. If we expect a similar occurrence for the 2022 season, Norris will need to ensure that he elevates himself to continue his powerful run against his teammate. As things will likely remain civil between the two, Norris also has an opportunity to learn from his experienced teammate, helping further refine his driving into the future.

The new regulations will pose an intriguing challenge to teams and drivers up and down the grid. While investment from the Mumtalakat group and MSP Sports Capital will help McLaren to meet the cost cap ceiling, the cars themselves remain a different matter. The young driver will need to find his feet quickly within the new cars, which have a whole new aerodynamic, tyre and subsequently, handling philosophy.

What will he need to do?

Consistent qualifying is crucial to solidify the belief that a driver is maximising their possibilities relative to the rest of the field. While has ironed out minor mistakes which he faced in earlier seasons, further refinement would allow him to perform metronomically, maximising car performance every time.

A win will certainly do him no harm either. With most of his peers either coming close or claiming a win, a breakthrough like this would further cement his placement as a member of the “new generation”. It will also help to retain his mantle as “team leader”, continuing to shape the team and himself into a high-performance unit, reliant and powerful with one another.

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