Andrea Stella appreciative of Lando Norris’ ‘long-term trust’ in McLaren
Andrea Stella has acknowledged Lando Norris’ ‘long-term’ trust in the team as McLaren look set to go through a tough start to 2023.
McLaren have been quite open about the fact that the MCL60 is not likely to trouble the top four teams at the start of the 2023 season, with their main deficiency being in the area of aerodynamic efficiency.
With upgrades on the way aimed at addressing the aero weaknesses, McLaren are confident that they can make consistent progress throughout 2023 to become a far more competitive entity.
However, their slow start means race drivers Norris and Oscar Piastri aren’t likely to be scoring many points in the immediate short-term – a particularly galling situation for Norris as the British driver has become a thorn in the side of the frontrunners in recent seasons and now requires patience just to get back in that position.
Norris is on a long-term deal with McLaren that will see him stay at Woking until the end of 2025, and Stella addressed the British driver’s trust in the team in an open letter on the McLaren website during the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix weekend.
Andrea Stella looks back over Bahrain
Reflecting on the season opener in Bahrain, where Norris may have been able to score points had his MCL60 not encountered a pneumatic leak mid-race, Stella said it was a particularly encouraging performance given where they believed the car to be.
“With Lando, we were on course to score a few points, which is encouraging considering the work we know we need to do with the performance of the car,” he said.
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“At a track like Bahrain where tyre degradation is especially high, if you can reduce degradation by a small percentage compared to another car, then your relative competitiveness after, let’s say 10 laps, becomes better than your underlying competitiveness, and I think our degradation was competitive.
“That leaves the team with a clear picture of where we stand. It will vary from track to track, but essentially: ‘With the current level of competitiveness of our car, if we do a good job, we have the opportunity to be in the points. If we don’t, then we’re outside.'”
McLaren ‘appreciate Lando Norris’ trust’
Despite the frustration of taking a significant step backward at the start of this season and his rising star, Norris has been matter-of-fact about McLaren’s performance levels and has not shown much outer frustration. This has earned the admiration of Stella, who expressed McLaren’s appreciation for his trust.
“Lando is one of the best drivers on the grid, and he’s committed to McLaren long-term,” he said.
“We appreciate his trust and are working extremely hard to give him the car that puts him close to scoring podiums and winning races because we know he will immediately do the job thanks to his top and unique race craft.”
Stella also took the opportunity to praise Piastri after the Australian rookie’s first race.
“We are extremely pleased with Oscar’s development so far,” he said.
“He gets better with every session, showing great awareness while driving, and the capacity to go into the next race and cash in on the car’s potential: this is a definition of talent. We’re also extremely pleased with his integration into the team and his attitude. So far, he has confirmed that he will be a strong asset in the future.”