Lando Norris has had an impressive start of the season so far, with two podiums in Bahrain and Monaco that put him in third place in the drivers's standings, ahead of Mercedes' Valtteri Bottas. The British driver has also proved his consistency, ending every race in the points, and four times out of five in the top five.
Recently Norris has signed a multi-year deal that ties him even more to McLaren, and explained his choice to selected media in Monaco by praising future plans, and renewing his affection and gratitude towards the team that allowed him to debut in F1.
“It’s a combination of a few things over the last couple of years that we’ve that we’ve done,” he introduced. “But then also things we have coming up in the future.”
McLaren is undergoing a major renewal of their headquarters and factories, with new technologies implemented to aid in the planning of the 2022 cars, and an exceptional tool is the wind tunnel, that makes aereodynamics tests much more easier to organise, mainly because of Covid-related logistical issues:
“Having our own wind tunnel is one of the biggest things. How much easier it will make their lives in the factory, the guys and girls who have to travel all the way to Germany every time, and go to the wind tunnel. They have to spend isolation there for three weeks, then come back, isolation again, so the amount of time we lose a lot of time compared to other teams who are able to do it a lot quicker.”
Norris also talked about the upcoming regulations change, and what could it mean for a midfield team closer to the top teams like his.
“In 2022, everything changes. I think we’ve had these rules for a few years now where we were a long way behind with these rules. We caught up a lot with these rules. And the fact we managed to catch up as much as we have has been pretty good. But then in 2022 everything’s different. So I have the belief that we can start off on a much better foot, I would want to say, in the best way possible."
He reckons that the top teams will still have a prominent role in the near future, but believes that McLaren can seriously improve their performances: "You still know that Mercedes and Red Bull are going to be fast from the off next year. But if we can start much closer then we’ll still be able to progress from there on.”
Norris also recalled the circumstances and the support received by the British team when he was approaching the F1 championship:
“I owe a lot to the team for giving me the opportunity to be here and everything. Getting to do already the FP1s and in-season test that I did it back in 2017, I think a lot of that set me up very well to come into Formula 1 in a good way. They helped me a lot. I was at a lot of races the year before with them. I went to a lot of races with them just kind of getting to know the engineers, working with them a lot and so on."
The help and assistance provided by McLaren would make it hard for him to leave for a top team, as he feels extremely grateful towards everyone in the team: “They’re the reason I’m in Formula 1 now, so I owe them a lot, I have a lot of loyalty for them. And I think loyalty is one of the biggest things in terms of respect between us and the teams and stuff, so it wouldn’t be an easy decision for sure.”
The young British expanded on how he feels and how his approach to racing has evolved, not anymore a rookie in the championship, but a driver with two years of experience behind.
“It’s still quite early, still year three. But I feel much more like my own driver rather than just a driver who’s in Formula 1. I feel much more like I know what I want to learn and know what I want to aim for and what I need to do. I know what I need around me to make sure I’m in the best mentality, the best position possible to do the job I need to do."
When asked about his chances to fight for winning the championship, Norris said that it's still too early to think about it, but that his driving has improved a lot lately.
"You never stop learning, you never stop getting better. In many ways. I’m still early days, I would say. You have like Daniel or Lewis, who’s an incredible driver, but he still says now he makes mistakes and he still learns and he’s still getting better and so on. So I’ve got a long way to go until I’m at that stage."
“But me comparing to the driver I was a few years ago, I’m just a much more complete driver," he concluded.