Why Lando Norris now has a ‘good reason’ to stay at McLaren

Thomas Maher
McLaren driver Lando Norris at the Japanese Grand Prix.

McLaren's Lando Norris at the Japanese Grand Prix.

After plenty of speculation that he’d want to look elsewhere, Lando Norris now has no reason to jump ship.

McLaren may now be one of the quickest cars on the grid, thanks to some very efficient upgrades that have transformed the MCL60, but it’s been a rollercoaster year for Lando Norris after getting used to reasonable success in recent years.

McLaren’s huge dip in form at the start of 2023 prompted plenty of fan and pundit speculation that Norris would likely want to try to find a way out of the Woking-based team, but Le Mans racer Richard Bradley believes the British driver should now feel confident in his team going forward.

Richard Bradley: McLaren’s turnaround has been incredible

With Norris and Oscar Piastri finishing second and third in Japan, a circuit that demands aerodynamic efficiency, Bradley appeared on the On Track GP podcast where he commented that the transformation of the MCL60 through the last few months will have given the team a huge boost in confidence.

“It’s remarkable, it’s actually incredible. There’s not really much of an explanation for it, it’s a very, very big jump,” he said.

“Obviously, there’ll be explanations in the design rooms and they will have found something out. But it gives you a lot of confidence. At the start of the year, everyone was saying ‘Oh Lando’s got to start thinking about other options because McLaren is so bad’.

“Well, you have to say, since really Silverstone onwards, McLaren has been in that gaggle – probably second, third, or fourth-best car with Mercedes and Ferrari all at different times, Mercedes probably a bit further back.”

With it pointed out to him that McLaren’s upward trajectory comes before they move into their new wind tunnel, Bradley believes it’s all the more reason to be optimistic about the team’s climb back to the front.

“But, you know, now there’s a good reason to stay there,” he said.

“If they can keep working on that philosophy and exploit a bit more from it, then it could be interesting going into next year.”

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Lando Norris would have won races this year ‘without Max Verstappen’

Having scored four second places in the last seven races, in stark contrast to the reasonably barren first nine races, Norris has recently eclipsed Nico Hulkenberg as the driver with the most points in F1 to have never scored a race victory.

But Bradley believes such stats belie just how well Norris is doing, and that the McLaren driver would be the equal of the likes of Sergio Perez in having multiple race wins under his belt if Max Verstappen was removed from the equation.

“It’s looking very positive,” he said.

“Lando has ended up with the unenviable stat of being the driver with the most points to have never won a Grand Prix. Now, you have to always be careful with stats like this, because the point model changes very quickly.

“So, for example, in the 1980s, it was nine points for a win. Then historically, up until recently, it was only 10 points for a win. So drivers had a lot fewer points back then than they do now. But it still doesn’t really change the facts. If it wasn’t for Max Verstappen, he’d probably have a few wins this year.”

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