Andreas Seidl says that Lando Norris “made the next step as a driver” with his maiden podium at the season opener.
The McLaren driver had already enjoyed a successful start to the season when he qualified in P4 on Saturday, behind only the Mercedes drivers and Max Verstappen.
He continued to impress in the race, remaining in contention for a top-three finish throughout. When he claimed it, he became the third-youngest driver ever to stand on the podium.
Seidl, the British outfit’s team principal, believes that, with his performance, Norris has shown that he’s come a long way since his rookie campaign.
“For a driver, it is important to create this momentum for himself as it gives him the confidence he needs to pull it off when it matters in qualifying and the race,” Seidl told Autosport.
“Lando was simply building it up as he started well last year. You could see that last year in his race starts when he started carefully at the beginning, and then once he had a bit of confidence and races under his belt, he was there.
“With the work he has done together with his team over the winter, I think he simply made the next step. I am very happy, very happy with the team, so we can have some great results with him in the future.”
Heading into the final few laps, it looked like Norris would just miss out on a podium. Lewis Hamilton was running in P2 with a five-second time penalty but had opened up the gap to his compatriot.
However, a stunning final lap from Norris, the fastest of the race, closed the gap by 0.8 seconds and ensured he became the first Brit other than Hamilton to stand on the podium since 2014.
“At some point, we all thought we missed the podium when Leclerc went through, but obviously we were communicating the gaps to Lando about Lewis,” Seidl added.
“Then when he got his penalty, Lando was prepared for his last laps in terms of getting the maximum of everything that the car had.
“(For) Lando to pull it off like that is impressive, and if you look now at the whole weekend, it is impressive what Lando has done.
“It also shows that as we expected from him, he developed, or made the next step as a driver, which you would also expect after your rookie season in Formula 1.”