Lando Norris felt his more serious approach to the 2020 season paid off, but people still paint their own picture.
Norris became a fan favourite for his jovial nature in what was his debut Formula 1 campaign in 2019, as well as his pranks and memes on social media. But that did not stop people accusing him of not taking McLaren or his Formula 1 career seriously.
So, in 2020 Norris cut a far more serious figure. He still found time for a laugh and a joke, but interviews were much more serious and his social media pages followed the same trend.
The Briton said he still has people accusing him of joking around too much, but ultimately he won’t be someone he is not and accepts people will always paint their own picture of him.
“On the whole, I would say there have been a lot less times and a lot less things, I guess mainly I post in social media, which are jokey,” Norris told Motorsport.com.
“A lot of that is where it comes from, just what I decide to post post-race. When it’s a difficult day [in 2019], I always took it as a bit of a joke, or portrayed it as a joke with some of my comments on social media and things.
“Sometimes [last] year all I’ve done is [write], ‘tough day in the office, head down onto the next one’. And it’s as simple as that.
“That’s exactly the same thing as what I would do last year, in that I would go to the factory and work on the next race and try and figure out what went wrong. But I’d just post a joke about it on social media.
“People would love that, but also just think ‘oh he’s not doing any work, that’s why he’s not doing well enough, because he is just too jokey’.
“That’s just how life is, I guess, and how social media works, that’s the picture people paint of you.
“I still get similar things from a lot of people about how I’m too jokey still and how I don’t work hard enough and so on.
“But within the team, people know what I do, and that’s all that matters in my opinion, and what I know of myself and how hard I work and things like that.
“I’ve posted more, ‘head down, onto the next one’, and that’s it. I haven’t made a joke about it, and people then portray that differently and say that I’m working better and that I’m doing a better job this year.
“With something I post, people paint two pictures of it. But I’m doing a very similar thing in terms of I’m going back to the factory, I’m going home and thinking about that next race and how to do better.
“That’s simply all I’ve done, but I’m still who I am within the paddock, I still say what I say, I still laugh, because I laugh at jokes because they’re funny.
“I don’t try and be someone fake and someone I’m not.”
Norris picked up his first Formula 1 podium in 2020 with P3 at the season-opening Austrian Grand Prix. He would go on to finish the season P9 in the Drivers’ Championship with 97 points.
And for 2021 he will have a very tough benchmark at the other side of the garage in the form of seven-time race winner Daniel Ricciardo.