Daniel Ricciardo backs ‘phenomenal talent’ ex-team-mate for title-winning future

Sam Cooper
Daniel Ricciardo with Lando Norris. Abu Dhabi, November 2022.

Daniel Ricciardo with Lando Norris. Abu Dhabi, November 2022.

Daniel Ricciardo believes his former team-mate Lando Norris has everything he needs to one day be a Formula 1 World Champion.

Norris and Ricciardo spent two years together at McLaren and while it was a troubled period for the Australian, it was another step on the evolution of Norris as he comfortably beat a Formula 1 veteran.

Ricciardo may have secured the team’s only win during that time but it was Norris who kept his seat post-2022 with McLaren opting to depart with a hefty sum just to release Ricciardo from his deal a year early.

Now it appears Norris has gone up another gear, able to drag a sometimes underperforming McLaren car up the grid and while he is still chasing that first F1 win, Ricciardo believes he has the potential to be a future World Champion.

“I think you’ll know when he gets his first win,” Ricciardo told Crash.net. “Once he crosses that, or climbs that mountain, I think a lot of people will be like ‘ok, this kid can go all the way’.

“Obviously he hasn’t got the win yet but he’s young, I think he’s still going to learn and keep growing, maturing. So I have no reason to say he won’t.

“It’s just unless he never gets a winning car – that’s the only thing that will probably stop him. I think he’s got all the ability to do it.”

Arguably the biggest hurdle to Norris achieving that is not the car he is driving but instead Max Verstappen with the Dutchman already a two-time World Champion despite being only two years older than the McLaren man.

Ricciardo is someone who has driven with both of them during this career and said it was hard to compare the two.

“I think it’s one of those ones where he’s certainly, at least what I felt the car was capable of, he was always getting the maximum out of it. Something obviously I struggled to do at McLaren,” Ricciardo said of Norris.

“So I look at that and I’m like ‘ok, this kid is maximising everything he’s got’. Most times it would translate.

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“What Max is doing now is phenomenal, and it’s like what Lewis [Hamilton] did, can you win week-in, week-out regularly and can you handle that pressure and the rest of it?

“I hope for him he one day gets the chance to be in a car that can fight for wins. But do I think that he can’t handle that? No. I’m sure he can. Until we win… We all believe we can do it, but you got to do it… But I think he’s a phenomenal talent.

“Comparing him to Max, it’s hard because did Lando put in some amazing qualy laps? Absolutely. Were they as good as anyone on the grid? Probably. But obviously Max has done that as well.

“I think there have been days where he obviously looks as good. But to draw a like for like comparison, it’s tough. But I think he’s very, very good.”

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