Lando Norris has welcomed the arrival of his new McLaren team-mate Oscar Piastri but wants to keep focused on the 2022 season for now.
Piastri was finally announced as a McLaren driver shortly before the second free practice session of the Dutch Grand Prix following a month of speculation.
The announcement was able to happen after the Contract Recognition Board determined that it was McLaren, rather than Piastri’s current employer Alpine, who had the legal deal with the young driver.
The case raises more questions than it answers with Piastri signing his contract a day after the British Grand Prix and a week before Daniel Ricciardo reiterated his desire to see out his contract but one man whose future in the team has always been assured is Norris.
Speaking following FP2, the Brit welcomed his newest team-mate but stressed it was important not to lose focus on the 2022 season.
“I’m looking forward to it,” he said in the paddock afterwards. “Another new year, someone new to work with. It’s always different for every driver to work with someone different.
“Of course, it’ll be a new challenge for everyone including himself [Piastri]. So of course welcome to the team Oscar but we still have a long season ahead. This is 2023. So that’s good news, good news for the team, but we have a lot of work to do this year if we want to give ourselves a good car next year so the focus is this for now.”
Norris impressed during Friday’s running and finished P4 in both sessions. The 22-year-old said he felt the Zandvoort circuit brought the McLaren car “back alive.”
“Pretty much that,” Norris responded when asked if it felt as good in the car as it looked on paper. “It felt definitely a little step ahead of where we were in Spa. Just the higher downforce track, bringing our car back alive a little bit.
🚨 BREAKING NEWS 🚨
The CRB has ruled that Oscar Piastri is free to drive for McLaren for the 2023 and 2024 seasons! #F1
— PlanetF1 (@Planet_F1) September 2, 2022
“It’s still close. It’s not like we’re miles ahead of where we were, but more back in line with where we were in Budapest. So some good news giving us a little bit more confidence coming into this weekend. I think we were pretty reasonable in both low fuel and high fuel so if we can continue that into tomorrow, then I’ll be a bit more confident.”
Norris also predicted that the soft tyre was the way to go for qualifying but that not may be the case in Sunday’s race.
“We ran all the tyres, we ran hard, medium and soft. Soft is definitely a pretty reasonable jump going into low fuel, [it] provides a lot more especially with it being quite windy. It just allows that car to hang on that little bit more. So definitely the nicer tyre for qualifying.
“For the race, maybe not so much but we’ve gathered all the data we want. I think we’re looking reasonable we just need to piece it all together.”