Norris hopes to still be faster once Ricciardo ‘clicks’

Michelle Foster
Lando Norris and Daniel Ricciardo hug. Italy September 2021

McLaren team-mates Lando Norris and Daniel Ricciardo congratulate one another with a hug. Italy September 2021

Trouncing Daniel Ricciardo at first, and still up on his team-mate despite his recovery, Lando Norris says his rivalry with the Australian has “been very good” for him.

This year, Norris has found himself taking on a new team-mate in Ricciardo, who moved to McLaren from Renault.

Most thought it would be a close battle between the two but one that would quickly swing in Ricciardo’s favour. It has not.

While the eight-time grand prix winner has produced better results in the second half of the championship, Norris remains ahead in the standings by 153 points to 105.

“I think it’s been very good for me,” he said, quoted by “It’s also been one of the parts making me enjoy a bit more the environment.

“There’s always that question of when you go up against a driver like that ‘are you going to do well? Is he going to beat me in every single qualifying or race of the season?’

“Those thoughts go through your head a little bit for the year. So when none of that happens you feel like ‘okay, if I can do this against him and he could beat this guy when he was in the same car, then I must be in a decent place’. So it makes you think of good things.

“But then, on the flip side, it doesn’t make me feel like I’m suddenly the best driver in the world. There have still been some races where he has been quicker than me and qualifying sessions where he has been a bit quicker.

“I know he’s still Daniel. Once he clicks and finds his way and so on, I hope to still be quicker than him. But I know it won’t be ‘I’m always quicker’ because he’s a very, very good driver.

“But my confidence has definitely come up with how I feel like I’ve performed. And it’s not necessarily all because I’ve beaten Daniel.”

Norris and Ricciardo have spent a large part of this season racing against the Ferraris, both on track and in the Constructors’ Championship.

It is, however, the Scuderia who have found the better pace of late with their new engine putting them 39.5 points ahead of McLaren in the race for best of the rest in the standings.

“It’s helped them,” Norris said of Ferrari’s upgraded PU. “They were very good on energy before. They have a lot of deployment which at some circuits doesn’t make a massive difference, but at other circuits definitely helps.

“When we are clipping on the straights and we lose 20 km/h, they just keep going. It makes a big difference in terms of how you can race them and overtake and stuff.

“I think it’s just been very close all season and I still believe we’ve done a better job as a team. I think there have been more races where they have been quicker but they have just made more mistakes than us. They should be further ahead.

“But it’s tough. If I look at the Drivers’ Championship, I’m still ahead of both of them [Ferrari drivers]. So of course I want the team to be up there. But I feel like I’ve done as much as I can to help  on that side of it.”

Norris is P5 in the standings, one point ahead of Charles Leclerc and 7.5 up on his former team-mate Carlos Sainz.