Lando Norris predicting a lengthy wait before first F1 title challenge

Sam Cooper
McLaren's Lando Norris climbing into the car. Austria, July 2022.

Few would doubt his talent but Lando Norris believes he is still some way off from competing for a Formula 1 World Championship.

It is easy to think of Norris as a veteran of the F1 grid but at the age of 23, only one driver was younger than him on the grid in 2022.

Like his junior career was, every year of Norris’ four seasons in the pinnacle of motorsport has been an improvement on the last.

In 2019, he scored his first points. In 2020, he stood atop the podium for the first time and in 2021, he improved that tally to four including a career-high P2 at Monza.

But while 2022 saw him stagnate with just a single podium and 38 points fewer than he acquired the year previous, there are few who would argue that was down to the ability of Norris.

The Brit has been occupying the ‘best of the rest’ category for a while now, picking up six seventh place finishes in 2022, but while some say a title battle is soon on the horizon, Norris himself is a little more hesitant.

“With everything I’ve learned, maybe I could win a race, but I’m unlikely to win a championship until possibly that time,” he told GQ magazine of his contract end date in 2025.

“I know I need to be at the absolute top of my game in those years.”

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The McLaren MCL36 proved a difficult car to understand and one that lacked the speed of its predecessor. Such was the fall in form, it had some questioning whether Norris was right to tie himself down to the Woking outfit for so long.

Norris has never shown any regret but with his colleagues such as Charles Leclerc, George Russell and Max Verstappen, all of which are no more than two years older than the McLaren man, winning races and world titles, it will not be long before the self-confessed “perfectionist” wants to be fighting at the top of the grid.

“I think I’m a fair loser, but I’ve always been a guy who’s very harsh on myself. I’m very critical of my own performance,” Norris explains. “I always think, What could I have done better? And then, What could the team have done better?”

“I love to listen,” he explains. “It might not be something I’m necessarily giving input on, but because I love racing, the more I can know about, that’s a good thing. I’m a perfectionist. I try as hard as I can to be a better driver.”

One man who has backed him to go on and win the World Championship is his boss Zak Brown but the McLaren CEO admits he knows they need to give him the car to do it.

“I think he’s got another 10 to 15 years ahead of him,” Brown also told GQ. “I think as long as we can get him a car, he’ll be a world champion.”

“He takes the things that he needs to take seriously, very seriously. But he also knows that we’re in a fun business, racing cars.”