McLaren boss Zak Brown has detailed Lando Norris’ improvement at the team and how they have encouraged him to reach a whole new level.
Norris has arguably been the stand-out driver of the 2021 season so far with six top-five finishes in the first seven races of the campaign, a run which has included two podium finishes at Imola and Monte Carlo.
The expectation ahead of the 2021 season was that Norris would have his hands full against Daniel Ricciardo, but those roles have actually been reversed.
And Brown has said Norris has been able to unlock further potential by the team giving him the freedom to push the car to its limit.
When in Austria last year… 🏆🍾 pic.twitter.com/LgZkBF18sb
— McLaren (@McLarenF1) June 25, 2021
“Lando has matured really well, he came in as a rookie, and already drove really mature,” Brown said, as quoted by Motorsport.com.
“If you look at some of the other rookies that came in, they had a lot of accidents.
“While they showed speed, they got over the limit one too many times. Lando really hasn’t. He’s shown great pace and maturity from the word go.
“Then what we asked him to do last year and this year is to actually be a little bit more on the limit, to almost encourage, it’s OK if you go off every once in a while.
“And what we’ve seen is he’s sped up even more, gotten his elbows out, but he’s still keeping the car on the track, which is great.
“Now his mistakes are little track limits in Italy, when he was going to be P3. So he’s upped his aggressiveness, his starts, his first laps, but very much in controlled way.
“As you would expect in the first year, would sometimes take a little bit of time to learn the circuit, and the set-up, and would kind of follow Carlos [Sainz].
“Now what we’re seeing is Friday, first session, he’s on it right away.
“So we’re extremely happy with how Lando has performed, and we think he’s performing at a very high level.”
Brown also has no doubt that new recruit Ricciardo will get back to his own high, consistent level and reminded everyone that he still has had very little time in the car.
“We mustn’t forget, he had half the testing that we had this year, and we were still trying to learn the power unit in testing,” Brown stated.
“So what we’re seeing out of Daniel is he’s getting quicker every weekend. His work ethic is great, his attitude is great, and he and the team are just working more closely together.
“So I’m extremely confident that he’ll get to his ultimate pace here shortly. I think adapting to a new car in a COVID era, where you have reduced testing, has certainly not made it easy on him.
“He’s got a team-mate who I think is as fast as anyone on the grid. So he’s got a great bar to race against.”