McLaren boss Andrea Stella avoided the “diplomatic” answer to confirm the team and Lando Norris are “not comfortable” with victory remaining elusive, as leading F1 correspondent Lawrence Barretto branded Norris F1’s most wanted driver.
McLaren made themselves one of the biggest success stories of F1 2023, their B-spec MCL60 and subsequent upgrade plan firing them from the lower reaches of the grid to regular podium contention.
Norris would score seven of McLaren’s nine podiums across the season, but that landmark achievement of taking to the top step of the podium continues to elude him, to the point where Norris has now set an unwanted record.
McLaren admit team and Lando Norris “not comfortable”
Norris’ P2 finish at the 2023 Brazilian GP marked his 13th trip to the podium without claiming a win, seeing him tie Nick Heidfeld on that unfortunate statistic for most podiums without victory.
Oscar Piastri claimed victory in his rookie season by winning the Qatar sprint, as Stella spoke of the need for Norris to take a P1 at long last, for the sake of himself and the team.
Asked if this ongoing wait for a win is affecting Norris, Stella told the F1 website: “There’s a diplomatic political answer, which is: no, I don’t think it’s affecting him. But I’d rather stay away from it and say these drivers want to win races.
“I’d rather accept the fact we haven’t put Lando in the conditions to do it yet. This is not a comfortable place. We can try and cope, but it’s not comfortable for Lando and it’s not comfortable for us. I’d rather start from accepting this, and work the best way to making this possible, rather than almost pretend that it doesn’t make any difference.
“We are here to win races. I don’t want a driver who doesn’t have this strong drive. If this makes him uncomfortable and makes us uncomfortable, we accept it. It’s going to be extra determination to create the conditions to win races.”
Lando Norris an F1 driver in high demand
There has been zero sign of Norris considering life away from McLaren, but as Barretto pointed out McLaren has work to ensure that his head is not turned.
Describing Norris as the “most wanted man in F1”, Barretto highlighted how Red Bull and Ferrari are set to have seats come free as it stands at the end of F1 2024, while the following year Mercedes potentially have a couple of seats to fill when Norris’s current McLaren contract is due to expuire.
McLaren therefore will know a crucial season awaits in F1 2024, a campaign where they really need to get Norris into that victory conversation, though they will be encouraged by Norris’s conviction in saying that he will become a grand prix winner next season.
“100% yeah, it’s going to be next year and I’m with McLaren next year,” Norris told Sky Sports F1 when quizzed on his confidence that he will break his win duck with McLaren.
“If there’s ever a time in my life over the last five years I want to be a bit more confident, it’s probably going into ’24 because we just need to start the season off well.
“This year, we started off terribly and we’ve still ended up being very, very strong.
“So if we can start the season a little bit strong at least, then I think it can be a great year.”
McLaren is in a strong position when it comes to driver contracts, Norris signed until the end of 2025, with a year longer on Piastri’s recently signed new deal.