Emerging F1 driver labelled as ‘World Championship material’ after stellar year

Oliver Harden
McLaren driver Oscar Piastri leads the field at the start of the Qatar Grand Prix sprint race.

McLaren driver Oscar Piastri leads the field.

Le Mans winner Richard Bradley has hailed Lando Norris as “World Championship material” after leading McLaren’s fightback from a slow start to the F1 2023 season.

McLaren began the year with muted expectations after missing development targets last winter, but have emerged as the closest challengers to Red Bull and Max Verstappen in recent months.

Norris has equalled his best F1 result on six occasions since July’s British Grand Prix at Silverstone, with rookie team-mate Oscar Piastri taking victory from pole position in last month’s Qatar sprint race.

Lando Norris is “severely underrated”

Appearing on the latest podcast episode from On Track GP, produced in collaboration between PlanetF1.com and DR Sports, Bradley has paid tribute to Piastri’s stunning rookie campaign.

But he believes the “severely underrated” Norris remains McLaren’s true team leader – and sees the British driver, frequently linked with a move to Red Bull, as the leading candidate to eventually succeed Sergio Perez as Verstappen’s team-mate.

He said: “I think Oscar’s had a brilliant season. I think we forget he’s a rookie and that’s probably the biggest compliment we can pay him.

“I think he’s had an incredible year, but Lando has just shown himself to be a class act and, honestly, I think if there is serious question marks over Checo next year he’s probably the main contender you’d look at the minute now that [Daniel] Ricciardo has been confirmed at AlphaTauri.

“I think he’s severely underrated and we’ve definitely got World Championship material there.”

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Speaking ahead of September’s Italian GP, Norris revealed he is open to becoming Verstappen’s team-mate at some stage – and would relish the chance to test himself against the three-time World Champion.

He told media including PlanetF1.com at Monza: “It’s definitely something I would be open to in the future. I think I can happily say that Max is probably one of the best drivers ever in the history of Formula 1.

“I never raced against him until I was into Formula 1 but I was always in the category below. In karting, I already knew him reasonably well.

“Back in 2013 was the first time I got to meet him and get to know him and things like that, so I’ve been able to witness what he’s doing and I think it’s not just that he’s in a good car and he’s able to perform.

“I think, no matter what car he’s in, he’ll be able to perform at a similar level. Maybe with different results, but still a similar level.

“I think it’d be great to work alongside someone like that and, at the same time, see where I can really stand against him.”

On Track GP is a YouTube channel launched in collaboration between PlanetF1.com and DR Sports. You can watch the full pre-Las Vegas Grand Prix episode below.

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