Lando Norris would see himself racing his old rival George Russell in the early stages of the 2022 season as being a clear sign of progress for McLaren.
For the vast majority of their three seasons together in Formula 1 so far, Norris has been ahead of Russell having had a more competitive car.
The British duo were title protagonists in the 2018 Formula 2 Championship, with Russell pulling clear in the last half-dozen races to secure the crown ahead of Norris and Alex Albon in third.
But it was Norris who made the faster start in F1 as he was thrown straight in at McLaren, fighting in the midfield, whereas Russell cut his teeth at the back of the pack with Williams where he had been sent ‘on loan’ by Mercedes.
Apart from Russell’s stand-in appearance for Lewis Hamilton at the 2020 Sakhir Grand Prix, he has largely had a rear view of Norris’ car – but that is expected to change now he has been called up to Mercedes permanently from this season.
Therefore, if Norris finds himself on the same part of the racetrack as his friend Russell in the opening grands prix of 2022 in Bahrain and Saudi Arabia, he will consider that a positive.
New uniform. 👌 pic.twitter.com/mudFGscZi6
— George Russell (@GeorgeRussell63) January 10, 2022
“First of all, I hope we get to go wheel-to-wheel,” Norris, who has achieved five F1 podium finishes so far to Russell’s one, told reporters.
“If we go wheel-to-wheel then I think we’ve had a good start to 2022. Or he’s had a bad one!
“I think, of course, we will be optimistic and hope we can start the season well, and [hope] we can be closer to Ferrari, Mercedes and Red Bull, I guess especially those final two.
“Time will tell. I don’t think anyone really knows where anyone will be at the beginning of the season.
“But we’ve definitely got some ground to make up and it won’t be easy – although it’s new rules and everything – to make up all of it this year.
“If I’m racing George then we are racing Mercedes, and if we are racing Mercedes then I think we’ve had a good off-season.”
Norris will certainly be hoping for a start to 2022 like he enjoyed in 2021, when he finished no lower than fifth in nine of the first 10 races and eighth in the other.
Russell’s solitary podium finish for Williams came as a result of qualifying second on a wet track in Belgium, with the grid order essentially forming the grand prix classification as no race laps were possible other than those behind the Safety Car.
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