Zak Brown believes Lando Norris largely outperforming Daniel Ricciardo was proof, if needed, about the young Briton’s talent.
Ricciardo narrowly outscored Norris in the second half of the 2021 season. But Norris’ excellent performances in the opening rounds of the campaign ensured he beat his more experienced team-mate by 45 points come the end of 2021.
Norris earned four podium finishes and while Ricciardo’s sole podium was a victory at Monza, Norris outqualified his McLaren team-mate 14-8 over the course of the year and also spent a significant portion of 2021 ahead of both Valtteri Bottas and Sergio Perez in quicker machinery.
Brown quickly signed Norris to a new multi-year contract in light of his early results, and the 22-year-old was widely heralded as one of the drivers of the season.
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Given Ricciardo’s pedigree and his raw talent, the McLaren CEO said Norris gave him “validation” of his own speed because of how he matched up against the eight-time race winner.
“We’ve always had, first and foremost, race-winning drivers and usually World Champions,” Brown told reporters, quoted by GPFans.
“That was one of the appeals of getting Daniel in the car. Winning multiple grands prix gives you a bit of a benchmark and that demonstrates how good Lando is.
“That’s not a surprise to us, but you want that validation.”
Ricciardo’s timely upturn in form in the second half of the year showed he was getting closer to his best as the year progressed, and the Australian still has “full belief” in himself that he is the best on the grid.
With that, Brown is of the opinion that both of his drivers are able to win races and championships in the future if their car is fast enough to challenge, and he is “very confident” they will be able to deliver if that is the case.
“We now have two drivers capable of winning grands prix, one that has done it and one that will no doubt do it,” Brown said.
“And I don’t think you have to have a World Champion in the car. I think what you need to have are two drivers you think are capable of being World Champions and I’m very confident we have that.”
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