Lando Norris has said Oscar Piastri is already proving a tougher challenge on the other side of the McLaren garage than both Carlos Sainz and Daniel Ricciardo.
Norris and Sainz proved evenly matched in their time together as McLaren team-mates, and the duo got on extremely well together – the pair being dubbed ‘Carlando’ as a result of their friendship.
After Sainz departed and Ricciardo arrived, however, the level of Norris’ overall dominance against the Australian will have been a factor in Ricciardo leaving the team two years into a three-year deal.
Lando Norris: Oscar Piastri ‘already’ tougher than Carlos Sainz, Daniel Ricciardo
Norris enjoyed a healthy points advantage over his rookie team-mate come season’s end in 2023, scoring seven podiums compared to two for Piastri, though the young Australian took Sprint victory in Qatar to announce himself at the front of Formula 1.
But having taken several races to get up to speed, Piastri’s pace was clear for all to see later on in the season and found himself on Norris’ tail more often than not as the year progressed.
Norris explained that the two have forged a strong working relationship at McLaren so far and the fact he has felt “pushed” by his team-mate will stand him in good stead for as and when a title fight is on the cards in future.
In direct comparison to his former team-mates, then, he believes Piastri already stands up favourably as a result.
“I mean, already he is. So yes,” Norris responded to Sky Sports when asked if Piastri could end up being a tougher challenge than Sainz and Ricciardo on the other side of the McLaren garage.
“Already he gave me a good challenge last year, and I think we’ve worked together very well.
“I think he’s an extremely talented driver, he’s a very hard worker, so I enjoyed it. It was nice to have that bit more of like a push, you know, as much as you hate it, you also like it and you welcome it because I want to make sure I’m in the best position for when I am fighting for a championship, that I’m ready on all accounts – and when you have a driver and a team-mate who can push you that little bit more, it’s only going to make you even more ready. So that’s what I had last year.
“He helped the team massively and I think we’ve worked together very well because we have the same target. We want to be champions and we want to win races and we’re not going to do that by hating on one another and not getting along.
“Times always change when you start fighting for race wins and things, but he gave the team a good help, and that’s what we needed, and I look forward to more of our battles and working together for longer too.”