Lando Norris believes his second season of experience in Formula 1 was invaluable in helping McLaren claim third position in the constructors’ World Championship.
In a fight to be ‘best of the rest’ behind Mercedes and Red Bull that lasted across the whole 17-race schedule, McLaren eventually came out 10 points ahead of Racing Point thanks to Norris and his departing team-mate Carlos Sainz finishing fifth and sixth respectively in the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.
It was a triumph for consistency as Norris and Sainz provided similarly useful contributions to the cause, with the Briton scoring 97 points and the Spaniard eight more before he moves on to join Ferrari for 2021 when Daniel Ricciardo will replace him at McLaren.
At 21, Norris was very much the junior member of the partnership, being five years younger than Sainz, and he opined that had he still been in his rookie campaign he may not have been able to play as big a part as he has.
It's been a year of ups and downs, old tracks, new experiences and everything in between.
— McLaren (@McLarenF1) December 13, 2020
“It was a perfect day for us, everything went to plan,” Norris, who started fourth on the grid and ran fifth after being overtaken by Alex Albon’s Red Bull on lap six of 55, told Sky F1.
“Maybe a bit lucky with one of the Racing Points not finishing, but in terms of our result with P5 and P6 we did everything we could. We couldn’t have done any more.
“I’m happy, I’m proud of the team. We kept working very hard and it was a perfect race. It gives us a much better opportunity going into the future to do even better.
“I’m proud and happy for the progress I’ve made as a driver. If I was the Lando last year coming into this year, I don’t think we would have done it.
“I’ve improved in a lot of areas, which has ended up helping us get P3 in the constructors. Of course there are still things I need to improve on, but there always is and I’ll save that for next year. For now, I’m happy with the progress.
“Some results could have been a bit better, but I’ve had my first podium in Formula 1 and P5 today. A lot of races I’ve maximised and couldn’t have done any better, so on the whole I’m very pleased with how I’ve done.”
Norris also paid tribute to Sainz, with whom he has had an unusually and refreshingly close relationship as colleagues.
“A big thanks to Carlos and his team because it’s been very enjoyable,” said Norris.
“I’ve learned a lot from him. He’s helped me to become a much better driver. He’s not just been my team-mate, he’s been someone I’ve been able to learn from, so ‘adios Carlos’ and I’ll see him on track next year.”