‘Golden era’ of Lando Norris and Carlos Sainz highlighted by McLaren chief

Sam Cooper
Lando Norris and Carlos Sainz

Lando Norris and Carlos Sainz were team-mates from 2019 to 2020.

The relationship between Lando Norris and carlos Sainz has been described as “very rare” by McLaren’s former group marketing director.

The pair were team-mates from 2019 to 2020 and built a strong rapport that continues to last to this day even after Sainz left for Ferrari.

Lando Norris and Carlos Sainz’s ‘very rare’ McLaren relationship

Being team-mates in F1 can often be a difficult task for a driver to navigate with both working together whilst also competing against each other.

But very occasionally you get a pair of team-mates who seem to strike the perfect balance between friendship and rivalry and the Norris-Sainz relationship is perhaps the best example of that in recent years.

That dynamic has been highlighted by Henry Chilcott, McLaren’s former group marketing director, who worked with the two during his tenure.

“So in my first year, [we had] Fernando Alonso,” he told the Pondering Papaya podcast. “Iconic, but a certain type of racer in a team that just wasn’t giving him anything near the car he needed.

“And Stoffel Vandoorne, I love Stoffel but he was in a bad car opposite this great champion. So it’s tough for him.

“When we got to the place where Lando and Carlos were there, it was an alchemy of the two of them coming together and it was perfect.

“What was great about it is you forget how young Carlos was. He was brought in and suddenly he was the senior driver.

“He is a gentleman. I mean, he’s fierce and ferocious as you need to be as a driver, but he’s very thoughtful and he stepped up into that leadership role. He put his arm around Lando and what happened is very rare in motorsport and I don’t know whether it ever happens or whether it can last that long, but they both made each other better.

“Carlos made Lando better, Lando made Carlos better. They got on incredibly well, they had very different characters but they clearly made each other better.”

While they both improved on-track, their off-track rapport helped connect them with the fan base and that made Chiclott’s marketing job a lot easier.

“From a marketing point of view, the chemistry that you saw, the friendship that you saw, it was all real,” he said.

“I was fortunate enough to make a whole bunch of different pieces of content with both of them. Season launch films and the like and they were just great fun. They were very relaxed together and it was definitely a golden period.

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“I remember talking to Zak [Brown] around Daniel Ricciardo coming in and that was a big moment, right? You’ve got Carlos going to Ferrari and Danny coming in and interestingly, like Danny Ricciardo is an exceptional driver clearly, but it didn’t work.

“For me I’m fascinated about how brand thinking can help shape culture and can help shape performance and I spent a lot of time working with Lando and his team to better understand him in order to help us create the best environment for him to thrive.

“Looking at McLaren historically, it hadn’t had a good performance with rookie drivers other than a young man called Lewis. It hadn’t worked out [with] people like [Kevin] Magnussen etc, even Checo [Sergio Perez].

“So we’ve got this kid who’s coming, he clearly has prolific talent, how can we make sure that we are creating the best possible environment for him to be as successful as you can be?

“It was an amazing experience to get to understand him and then working with Andrea Stella at the time and to help create a framework to help everyone who works in orbit around Lando bring the best to him and create the best environment for him and make sure that he stays grounded and has got the space he needs to succeed.”

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