McLaren boss Andrea Stella says Lando Norris can hold his own with the likes of Michael Schumacher and Fernando Alonso for “natural speed” as he continues to improve.
Norris has established himself as one of the brightest driving talents on the Formula 1 grid, with McLaren’s rapid improvement coming at a crucial time as speculation mounted that Norris could look for an early exit from his long-term deal.
Now on a streak of three successive podiums, with Oscar Piastri also thriving to make it back-to-back double podiums for McLaren, it is safe to say that both drivers are taking full advantage of the improved MCL60 at their disposal.
Lando Norris shares zoomed-in perception with top F1 drivers
Stella in his extensive F1 career has worked with several star F1 names, including seven-time World Champion Schumacher, Alonso and Kimi Raikkonen.
And the McLaren boss spoke of how Norris is now displaying the quality to dive deep into a half-second like it was an hour, a “very impressive quality” which he shares with such well-respected F1 stars.
“First of all, Lando, he gives you the characteristic like some other top drivers that I was lucky enough to work with, that their perception of time is like zoomed in very much,” said Stella on the Beyond the Grid podcast.
“He talks about what happens in half a second like if it happened in one hour. The capacity to perceive, isolate all the little things that happen from his point of view as a driver, or from what’s happening with the car, is pretty impressive.
“You can zoom your telemetry in and make this half a second become the entire laptop screen. But then when you look at the timestamp, you see, ‘Wow, this happened in two-tenths of a second’. So that’s a very impressive quality, which I then associate with the natural speed.”
Lando Norris has “natural speed” of Michael Schumacher and Fernando Alonso
On that note, Stella was asked whether at this point, Norris can be talked about in the same breathe as drivers like Schumacher, Alonso and Raikkonen.
Stella says the “natural speed” is at the level of that trio, with the next step being to bring all the ingredients together to create success, as those competitors did to become World Champion.
And in Norris’ case, Stella says the signs are promising as he spoke of how McLaren need drivers that tip the scales in their favour when success hangs in a 50/50 balance.
“I think the ingredients for Lando to be able to succeed, like these drivers have been able to succeed, are coming together,” Stella claimed.
“And when it is about natural speed, I think Lando can compete with some of these big names like Schumacher or Fernando Alonso.
“The real success factor is in making your race craft bigger and bigger, creating as much as possible adaptability, because you’re never going to have the perfect car, you’re never going to have the perfect situation. It can happen, you may have a dominant car, but this is the best scenario possible.
“We want to succeed, even when there’s a 50/50 probability to do that, then you want to make the difference through your continuous improvements, adaptability, understanding the situation better than your competitors and gaining a competitive advantage.
“And definitely Lando is on a very strong path from this point of view. And I think evidence is that as soon as we gave him a car that was able to compete for podiums, he just achieved it. So it’s clearly there.
“And I think if anything it’s more on us now, to give him the machinery to be able to capitalise on his qualities.”
McLaren are still in with a shout of beating Stella’s former team Ferrari to P3 in the Constructors’ Championship, the deficit 79 points with five rounds of F1 2023 remaining.