Lando Norris’ four-year contract at McLaren has piled the pressure onto his team-mate, Daniel Ricciardo.
That is the opinion of ex-Formula 1 racer Robert Doornbos who thinks that, rather than Norris having to justify himself to the team, he has shifted that burden onto Ricciardo.
The Briton is now tied down at McLaren until the end of 2025 having recently signed an extended deal – a clear sign of the faith the Woking-based team have in Norris, a driver they blooded in F1 at the age of 19 and who made a big stride forward in the 2021 season.
In contrast, Ricciardo, who is a decade older than his colleague at 32, has a contract only for the forthcoming campaign, although there is an option to extend it.
That will surely hinge on the Australian’s performances and results in 2022 having struggled during his first season with the team, apart from the glowing exception of his victory in the Italian Grand Prix.
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Doornbos sees McLaren as having gone the same route as Red Bull and Ferrari in placing their primary hopes in an up-and-coming star – and that it is now up to Ricciardo to show his experience is of equal value to them.
“Another rivalry I am looking forward to is Leclerc and [Carlos] Sainz,” Doornbos told Top Gear. “Leclerc needs to show Ferrari he is still their future champion.
“At McLaren, that’s Lando Norris. He has just signed a multi-year contract.
“You never used to see these contracts for several years, but it seems to be the new trend. You first saw it with Verstappen and Leclerc, and now also with Norris.
“Because of this contract, Ricciardo will also feel extra pressure for his position.”
Ricciardo himself recently said he was unconcerned about the prospect of having to prove himself in 2022 to prolong his stay at McLaren.
“Time isn’t really an issue, we have time,” insisted the Aussie. “Not that we want it to take five years, but it’s there if we need it.
“I know Lando did the extension, but I have an option there and I feel quite strongly we are in this together.
“And even through some of the lows last year I was still…of course, on track it is frustrating, but I was still really enjoying the McLaren environment and the team, so it’s an environment I want to have success in and thrive in.”
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