Can Daniel Ricciardo and Lando Norris become the strongest duo on the grid?

17-09-2021 10:00
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Can Daniel Ricciardo and Lando Norris become the strongest duo on the grid?

Daniel Ricciardo and Lando Norris claimed the first team one-two of the season in Monza on the weekend and in my opinion, it’s finally the start of a power duo for McLaren. A bounce-back victory for the Australian on Sunday will do the world of good for both Ricciardo and the team. However, an uneasy start to life at the Papaya team will have not done the driver the world of good. Especially when his teammate has been on fire this season.

Norris currently sits fourth in the Drivers’ standings on 132 points, whilst Ricciardo is down in eighth on 83 points. The Australian is behind both Ferrari drivers, but with his victory in Monza, McLaren still hold their lead over their Italian rivals.

Despite this up-and-down start at McLaren, can Daniel Ricciardo and Lando Norris become the strongest duo on the grid?

Ricciardo back to winning ways

It was finally glory for Ricciardo, for the first time since Monaco 2018, come Sunday evening. A superb race from start to finish secured a top-place on the podium, with Norris coming behind in second place. However, it hasn’t been easy for the Honey Badger this season.

Making the switch from Renault to McLaren wasn’t met with the response he probably expected and it didn’t start that way as well. Only three top-five finishes have come to Ricciardo, with one falling to him because of the cancellation of the Belgian Grand Prix. However, he still has helped the team hold their lead over the Scuderia with his performances over 14 races this year. As mentioned prior, he currently sits eighth overall in the Drivers’ Standings on 83 points but has a very good chance of moving up the standings, after his race-winning drive in Italy.

The win will only boost his confidence and will, in turn, provide Ricciardo with the ability to make stronger gains for McLaren. As the season goes on, confidence will obviously grow as well due to having more chance to learn the car in front of him and turn it into consistent points-scoring performances, like Norris has shown at the start of this season.

As the two teammates start to connect more, both as friends and rivals, it will only allow both of them to grow as drivers. This could end up badly and halt the team's progression, but, in my opinion, the two will thrive for McLaren next season and help the team bridge the gap to Red Bull and Mercedes, whilst potentially also fighting for the Formula 1 2022 Championships.

Norris consistent as ever

Norris is only in his third competitive season in Formula 1 but this year, he has proven to everyone exactly what he and McLaren can achieve in the future… success.

The young Brit has made a major step in the right direction in the 14 races so far this season and it won’t be long until we see him on the top step of the podium. 132 points in the races this year means that he averages 9.42 points per Grand Prix and places him fourth in the Drivers’ Standings, behind only Max Verstappen, Lewis Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas. However, Norris had been ahead of Bottas for the majority of the start of the season.

Three third-place finishes and a second-place in Monza, claiming a one-two for the team, is a superb season for Norris and at the tender age of only 21-years-old, a bright future ahead is almost guaranteed. Little more needs to be said about Norris and his relationship with Ricciardo because it’s as we expected it to be. The comedy duo are succeeding already for McLaren.

Can they become the strongest duo next season?

Simple answer, yes. The combination of Norris and Ricciardo has already started strong and will only improve as the latter gets to grips with the McLaren car. Norris is a young talent that has emerged this season already and will only improve, much like his teammate, as time goes on. In addition to this, the new regulations which come into place in the 2022 season can potentially make the team the strongest on the grid, it’s something we don’t know. Next season could see the return of McLaren to the Championship battle, or it could see Haas at the top, like I said, it’s something we don’t know yet.

I personally think that Ricciardo and Norris can easily become the strongest duo on the grid. Norris’ form this season alone screams Championship contention, it’s just down to Ricciardo and how well he can adapt to the car ahead of next season.

Do you think Ricciardo and Norris can become the power duo of the grid next year? Let us know your thoughts and feelings in the comments.

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