Norris warns there could be ‘no more Mr Nice Guy’

Henry Valantine
Lando Norris pensive look. Russia September 2021

Lando Norris looking off to the side with a pensive look, Kimi Raikkonen blurred in the background. Russia September 2021

Lando Norris has said that, if he is able to challenge at the front next year, his serious side will take hold in his racing.

He said he “feels very confident” that he will be able to build on what has been an excellent 2021 season for him, when the mass regulation changes come into play for next year.

He will be undergoing a lifestyle change, too, when he makes the move to Monaco in the new year, and he aims to maintain his upward trajectory heading into a new era of Formula 1.

“I feel like I can continue and make some improvements over the winter again and go into next year where I ended this one, which is better than where I started,” Norris told BBC Sport.

Because 2022 “will be so different because it’s going to be a very different car”, he also feels that the order shaking up could mean that he may battle with the drivers with whom he is currently closest – which he admits could change the dynamic between them, especially if they are fighting at the front.

If that’s the case, Norris said his inner competitor will most likely take over, and his affable nature may take a back seat if he is gunning for race victories and the World Championship.

“We’re still at the point with George [Russell] and myself and Alex [Albon] and Charles [Leclerc] [where] there’s a lot of compliments and we get along and we chat, but things always change when you become competitive against each other.

“We’re still in a friendly phase because we never raced each other. But if all of sudden we go into next year and in the middle of the championship it’s me and Max [Verstappen] and Lewis [Hamilton], I don’t think there will be as much Mr Nice Guy. That’s just the way it works.”

The 22-year-old has won praise from more experienced drivers on the grid this season, with Hamilton coming onto team radio to describe him as “such a great driver” when they battled in Austria, and Fernando Alonso dubbed him as a “rock star” when they did a helmet swap.

With their success, Norris said it gives him a confidence boost to know that he’s respected among the most esteemed names currently on the grid.

“It’s been very cool to get to know them a bit more,” said the McLaren driver. “Every now and again, I speak to Lewis on the parade laps and stuff like that.

 

“I guess because I still see them as more established drivers. Definitely [it] just boosts your confidence when you hear things from them because they’ve experienced every situation that I’m learning or have gone through this season.

“I was watching them on TV when I was, like, seven years old so it’s rewarding and cool to hear it from someone like that, people I looked up to for many years.”

 

Lando Norris opens up on move to Monaco

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