George Russell vs Lando Norris: Battle of the young Brits

17-03-2021 07:00 | Updated: 17-03-2021 11:40
George Russell vs Lando Norris: Battle of the young Brits

Coming into Formula 1 in the 2019 season, both George Russell and Lando Norris were preparing to battle it out in a tough rookie season but now as they head into their third year, questions are still being asked as to who can blossom into the ‘next Lewis Hamilton’ and compete to win a Drivers’ Championship.

Russell has been as successful as he could be whilst driving for Williams over the last two seasons, out-qualifying his teammate in every Grand Prix entered for the Oxfordshire based team but has been unable to achieve anything higher than 11th place (not including the Sakhir GP for Mercedes).

On the other hand, Norris has been able to make his mark in a time that sees McLaren re-emerge at the top of the Constructors’ Championship. Gaining his first podium at the 2020 Austrian Grand Prix, the 21-year-old is looking to find a strong partnership with new teammate Daniel Ricciardo and overcome fierce rivalry from Aston Martin, Alpine and Ferrari to retain third place, or even push for more.

This season will be marked as a potential make or break season for the Williams and McLaren drivers but who will have the better season? And who has the most to gain?

Upper hand for McLaren and Norris this year

I think it’s safe to say that on paper and in everyone’s thoughts, Lando Norris and McLaren have the upper hand compared to George Russell and Williams.

146 points compared to three speaks volumes when looking at the sport and the position it puts drivers in, so when talking about the battle between a mid-table team and a bottom-table team, it will have its obvious and easy thoughts.

However, the results from the three day testing in Bahrain last week will cause a stir and questions have arisen from this. During the final day and Russell’s only day testing the new FW43B, he put in a 1:30.117 lap, placing sixth overall on the day, ahead of Norris who found himself 11th fastest with a time of 1:30.661. Norris’ fastest lap around the 5.412km track at the Bahrain International Circuit was during his 52 laps on the second day of testing with a 1:30.586, still four-hundredth’s down on his Twitch Quartet partner.

As we all know though, testing is a time for teams to check the cars and the newly acquired pieces, so it’s safe to say that we shouldn’t be getting ahead of ourselves. McLaren would have been looking to see how smoothly the new Mercedes engine felt and whether or not Ricciardo was able to control the MCL35M, not at how fast Russell and Williams were.

With McLaren finishing third overall in the Constructors’ Championship last season and Lando Norris scoring 97 points in only his second season in Formula 1, all the bright lights will flood towards the men in orange and blue when the season starts later this month.

At this current moment, it looks clear to many fans that Norris will once again top Russell in points and, potential, podium places this season, but we will have to wait and see until the first podium comes on offer in Sakhir on March 28.

Future glory inbound for Russell

Despite not revelling in glory in his first two seasons, George Russell may have the brightest future ahead of him in the whole of F1, with Mercedes looking like the next target for the 23-year-old and a very achievable target, to say the least.

Filling in for Lewis Hamilton at the Sakhir Grand Prix in December, Russell’s race was full of ups and downs, ending in torment as a double pit-stop and a puncture late on ended his chances of winning on his Mercedes debut, but it wasn’t all bad as it somewhat solidified Toto Wolff’s option to have him at Mercedes once Valtteri Bottas’ or Hamilton’s contract runs out.

It will be a tough ask for the young Brit to continue his qualifying form and race pace from last season, but if he can even get close to replicating it and proving his strength in a weak Williams car, Wolff will come calling very quickly.

As for Norris, who is still contracted at McLaren until 2022, the future is uncertain but expect big things to come falling into his hands once his contract expires at the end of next season if he is able to continue growing as one of the best prospects on the grid.

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