Lando Norris vs Daniel Ricciardo: Who will come out on top?

Lando Norris vs Daniel Ricciardo: Who will come out on top?

08-04-2021 10:00

In the fourth part of our teammate battle series we move to the garage that includes everyone’s favourite twitch streamer-cum-driver and the Honey Badger himself; it’s Lando Norris and Daniel Ricciardo at McLaren.

Ricciardo has replaced the Ferrari-bound Carlos Sainz at the team that finished third in the Constructors’ Championship last year, with the Aussie leaving Renault, now known as Alpine, to join the project led by Zak Brown and Andreas Seidl.

The sharp upturn in fortunes for the team based in Woking has been a welcome one amongst most F1 fans, and the aim of a return to the top seems well under way; with Norris and Ricciardo as a driver pairing, they could achieve great things.

Predicting a favourite in this particular battle has proven difficult for many F1 fans, with some tipping the scales in favour of 21-year-old Norris, whilst some back the talent and experience of Ricciardo.

There are certainly arguments for both, and after the team had the closest battle between teammates in 2020, they may well find themselves in a similar boat this time around.

But who will actually come out on top?

The phrase ‘knowledge is power’ would suggest that Ricciardo should wipe the floor with Norris; having been in the sport for 10 years, the Aussie has won seven races and has been on the podium on 31 separate occasions whereas the youngster has just one single P3 finish, in the opening race of last season, and zero race wins.

The former Red Bull driver has 1,165 career points in comparison to the 158 that Norris has accumulated, and his experience of leading a team, as he did at Red Bull and Renault, will prove pivotal.

Norris is now into his third season at McLaren, but taking a look back at his previous two, and pitting him against the Aussie, it’s certainly very close between the two drivers.

Ricciardo, however, beat Norris in both seasons despite driving an inferior car; in 2019, Ricciardo finished P9 in the Drivers’ Championship with 54 points, in comparison to Norris’ P11 finish with 49 points in his rookie season.

In 2020, the then-Renault driver came out on top again, finishing in P5 with 119 points to Norris’ P9 with 97 points.

It was evidently close between the drivers on both occasions, but with Ricciardo in a slightly slower car on both occasions, it demonstrates his innate speed behind the wheel. Advantage Ricciardo?

Now, Norris will learn a lot from Ricciardo, just as Ocon did last year, but he will be expected to provide vital feedback on the car’s performance this year, his third season at the team, and in Bahrain, he filled that role expertly.

Norris is no longer a rookie, and unlike peers such as Charles Leclerc and George Russell, he had somewhat lost the tag of ‘future world champion’ over the past 18 months, before his barnstorming performance at the Bahrain International Circuit reminded everyone os his talent.

Round One to Norris

Despite starting in P7, behind Ricciardo, Norris leapt past his teammate, Pierre Gasly and the aforementioned Leclerc fairly early on, and held onto P4 comfortably.

It was a perfect start to the season, and after saying “I think there's a little bit more of a leadership role that I almost have to take” ahead of this season, the flying Brit certainly displayed this in round one.

Ricciardo finished 19.5 seconds behind his teammate in Bahrain, but once Norris was past him they were on slightly different strategies and so it’s hard to read too much into that. The 31-year-old will, however, be disappointed that he allowed Norris to pass him after winning the battle in qualifying, but it’s clear that despite his early speed, he is still getting used to the MCL35M.

The fact that he beat Norris in qualifying, albeit by just 0.047 seconds, will give him confidence heading into the race at Imola, but with the Englishman currently 1-0 up with 22 races to go, the scales are certainly in Norris’ favour.

The general consensus amongst many F1 fans is that Ricciardo is the third best driver on the grid, behind Lewis Hamilton and Max Verstappen, but Norris will be determined to finally beat his teammate, and I truly believe this could be the year he does it.

McLaren will desperately want to avoid any inter-team clashes, but Norris is clearly a favourite of CEO Brown’s, and this looks like the year he fully announces himself as a future world champion; he will be wary of Ricciardo of course, and with two such talented drivers, P3 in the Constructors’ looks on the cards once more.

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