Lando Norris feels he is “ready to go” up against Max Verstappen and Lewis Hamilton after he extended his deal to stay at McLaren.
The 24-year-old ended any speculation about his immediate future last week when he signed a multi-year extension to his contract, keeping him at the MTC and away from Red Bull.
With a new contract done and dusted, Norris has said he feels ready to compete with the best in the sport.
Lando Norris ready for Max Verstappen and Lewis Hamilton challenge
Norris has still not won a race but that appears to be a matter of if, not when, following a career-best seven podiums in 2023.
But the ambitious driver is not happy just to settle for a win and wants to fight with the sport’s elite.
“Do I think we’re ready to challenge them? Yeah, absolutely,” he said of fighting the other teams.
“In those situations, and there’s opportunities where we’ve been fighting against Red Bull, Ferrari, Mercedes, going against them head-to-head in strategy, pit stops, all of those things, and the majority of times we’ve executed them extremely well.
“When it comes to pressure, I think everyone is in a very good position, but as soon as you mention fighting for a championship, everyone’s mentality just changes a little bit. But I feel I’m ready to go against Max [Verstappen] and Lewis and fight against them.
“As much as I’d love to say over the next two years, ‘26 is an opportunity for everyone on the grid so that’s the big, big question mark. We’ll see how we do this year and you can ask me that question again.”
As for McLaren reaching the top again, Norris said he is “convinced” they are in good shape to do just that.
“It’s both the team’s goal and also just a personal goal that I’ve always had,” he said. “Am I convinced I’m capable of doing it? Yes. Am I convinced the team is capable of doing it? Yes.
“I don’t think it’s just last year and how we turned things around, I don’t think that’s the only thing I would say that’s convinced me more. It’s just everything that goes on day to day, the people that are here, the work ethic, the mentality, the approach to everything.
“[It is a step up] both for myself, [as] racing at the very top is not something I’ve necessarily done for a while, but also for the whole team. For everyone here at the factory it’s a different kind of level and excitement, for mechanics a different level of pressure and excitement.”