As McLaren waved goodbye to Daniel Ricciardo, Lando Norris has denied hating his former team-mate as that’s “not” the truth.
Ricciardo joined Norris at McLaren in 2021 and, although the Australian driver bagged the team’s only win with a P1 at the Italian Grand Prix, his results were largely underwhelming.
Struggling to get on top of the car, he had hoped to fight back this season year with the all-new technical regulations. It was not to be.
Ricciardo’s troubles continued and without a solution in sight, he and McLaren opted to part ways, calling time on the relationship two years into his three-year contract.
“It just frustrates me when I see people trying to make it look like we hate each other or that we don’t like each other, or have fun or whatever,” Norris said as per The Race.
“I hate that people think that because there’s not been one case where that’s been the truth.”
‘I don’t have sympathy’
Norris reckons people’s perceptions are based on his comment that he does “not have sympathy” with Ricciardo as he struggled in early 2021 to adjust to life at McLaren.
He added at the time: “It’s as simple as that. It’s up to him, it’s not up to me to help him or up to me to make him feel better. It’s his job.”
15 months later, after learning of his team-mate’s exit, Norris was again asked if he had any sympathy for the Honey Badger’s plight. He replied: “I would hate to say it, but I would say no.”
Those comments, he reckons, are the reason some people believe he didn’t like Ricciardo.
“Being honest,” he said, “because of some certain comments that I’ve said, when it’s regarding what it’s been like some of the things Daniel’s struggled with this car, and I’ve just been honest and said that it’s not my job to help him.
“Those comments, people just for some reason take it as I don’t like him, that I’m not friends with him and we don’t get along.
“Then they just see like a headline and just want to believe everything like that.
“I don’t know why else they would believe it.”
‘I want to be like what Ricciardo is good at’
In fact the 23-year-old applauds the eight-time grand prix winner for his ability to be one person when he’s in the car and, no matter how that’s going, the “fun guy” when he steps out of it.
“I want to be like what Daniel is good at, knowing what the person he can be on a racetrack and the person he can be away from a race track and the respect he can have on either side of that platform,” said the Briton.
“I think that’s what he’s very good at. When he puts his helmet on, he becomes this guy. And when it’s off, he’s the fun guy.
“He’s still a fun guy when he’s in the car, probably! But it’s just another level of concentration. And you kind of forget about the fun stuff.”
He does, however, concede that he and Ricciardo are two different people with different interests when away from the track.
“In terms of personal interests, it’s such a simple thing, it just wasn’t quite the same,” he said.
“So, we didn’t talk about things as much, because we didn’t speak about that similar things.
“It was just some simple things, maybe, made it look like we weren’t as good mates.”