Lando Norris now ‘in same category’ as three elite drivers after new McLaren deal

Thomas Maher
Oscar Piastri, Andrea Stella, and Lando Norris celebrate after the 2023 Japanese Grand Prix.

Andrea Stella believes Lando Norris belongs in the same elite category as World Champions like Michael Schumacher, Fernando Alonso, and Kimi Raikkonen.

Andrea Stella believes Lando Norris’ qualities as a racing driver are the match of the most elite he’s worked with in F1.

Norris has had his tenure with McLaren extended beyond 2025 – although just how long that is hasn’t been confirmed – with the Woking-based squad putting plenty of faith in their current driver pairing of Norris and Australian Oscar Piastri.

There are plenty of eyeballs on that particular squabble for supremacy, with Piastri having had a stellar rookie year – albeit with Norris still clearly coming out on top of the intra-team battle.

Andrea Stella outlines Lando Norris’ ‘World Champion’ material

Norris is the leading driver in F1 who is tantalisingly close to a first win that many thought would have occurred by now.

He’s secured 13 podiums without a win, has scored his first pole position and, with McLaren coming on in leaps and bounds through steady development in 2023, saw no reason to abandon ship any time soon.

Team boss Andrea Stella has been full of praise for both of his drivers and, having worked closely alongside World Champion drivers Fernando Alonso, Kimi Raikkonen, and Michael Schumacher, says he fully believes Norris has the talents the equal of them.

“Lando is definitely on a par with them,” Stella said, as quoted by Germany’s Motorsport-Magazin.com.

“He falls into the same category.

“The same kind of world champion material, the underlying talent, the mindset, the work ethic. It’s all there.”

It’s in Norris’ constant self-improvement that Stella sees him having the most in common with such established peers.

“They keep getting better,” he said.

“True world champions improve from year to year. That’s also the case here.

“They use their intelligence, their work ethic, gather the best people around them, and do everything they can to get better and better.”

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Lando Norris weighs in on Max Verstappen partnership ‘fear’

With Norris committing to McLaren for another while longer, it’s put to bed speculation of him joining Red Bull alongside Max Verstappen for now.

Put to him by Sky Sports whether an element of fear played a part in that, going up against the multiple World Champion in equal machinery, Norris denied it is the case.

“I think it’s a longer discussion than just saying that,” he said.

“Is Max one of the best drivers ever in Formula 1? Absolutely. I think he’s proved that enough.

“He’s in a team which he’s very comfortable in, a lot of things are built around him, so for anyone – even the Max of a few years ago – to go in against the Max of now is extremely difficult.

“So I don’t think it’s a question of: are you scared or not scared? I don’t think I’d ever be scared of going up against anyone.

“But even if you enter a team, are you in a position to challenge someone straight away? And are you comfortable to do that?

“And I think it’s a ‘no’ – for any driver. It takes time to adapt and takes time to get into place.

“And if you want to go against the best driver in the world, it’s not the best thing to do. It’s not a smart move to do.

“But I would love to race against Max. I’ve enjoyed some of our battles that we’ve had and I’m looking even more forward to the battles that we’re going to have this year.”

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