Lando Norris spent two seasons with Carlos Sainz in the McLaren team, before the Spaniard joined Ferrari in 2021, where he is now teammate of Charles Leclerc. Last year, the Madrid driver had his best season ever in Formula 1, taking four podiums and finishing the championship in fifth position in the overall standings, ahead of Norris and Leclerc, sixth and seventh respectively. Sainz’s performance prompted Ferrari to start talks to extend its contract beyond the deadline, scheduled for the end of 2022.
Norris also had a fruitful 2021, taking his first pole ever in Russia and coming close to victory. He has been on the podium four times, including second place in Monza. Speaking of his progress during his third season in Formula 1, the McLaren driver said the breakthrough he made in his second year, 2020, was perhaps less obvious given Sainz’s performance as well.
“I think my second season has been a good one,” Norris told Motorsport.com. “I think Carlos is one of the best drivers in Formula 1. He also didn’t make me look good, because he’s an extremely strong driver and he did a great job, to be honest. I think I was overshadowed a little by him, because he did an exceptional job. This year I believe I have taken that step forward that would have been the same or perhaps better than him ”.
Carlos Sainz Jr., Ferrari, 3rd position, lifts his trophy
Photo by: Jerry Andre / Motorsport Images
Norris attributed his progression to a combination of factors from past years, as well as the improvement in the car that gave him more confidence when it came to driving to the limit. The Brit also spoke about his current teammate, Daniel Ricciardo, believing that he too helped him take that step forward, giving him the motivation to try and test himself against a winner.
The McLaren driver thought the story was similar to Sainz’s when in Ferrari he found himself alongside Leclerc, widely defined as the future Formula 1 world champion. Norris said: “I always had the motivation to beat Carlos. At the same time, with Daniel, I didn’t feel nervous in any way when he arrived ”.
“A lot of people think I felt nervous instead, because he won more than one race and got podiums in Formula 1. We all know what Daniel is capable of, because he raced with a car that he won races with. While with Carlos, no one knew what he could do, because he was in Toro Rosso, Renault and McLaren. But since he has been confronted directly with Charles and has often beaten him, more and more people are realizing what he is capable of and what kind of driver he is ”.
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