Daniel Ricciardo insists he’s not trying to ‘discredit’ Lando Norris

Many pundits have tipped Lando Norris to become a future world champion, should he be given a sufficiently competitive car.

The hype around Lando Norris has been building and building ever since he first walked in the door at McLaren in 2019.

The young Brit has shown time and time again why he is so highly rated, scoring numerous podium finishes during his time with McLaren despite never having a car capable of laying a glove on Mercedes or Red Bull.

While Daniel Ricciardo has certainly underwhelmed in his two years with the team, which eventually resulted in the Australian being given the axe, he has credited his teammate for becoming the future of McLaren and exceeding all expectations.

“Everyone at McLaren is excited for what Lando can do,” said Ricciardo.

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“That’s not to say they just put everything onto him and not me, but he’s grown up in that team. It’s familiar to him now and he’s obviously proved his speed.”

Norris finished seventh in the driver’s championship, meaning that outside of the Ferrari, Red Bull and Mercedes drivers, who clearly have superior machinery, Norris is the ‘best of the rest.’

While many have tipped the 23-year-old to become a world champion in the future, his 2022 teammate Ricciardo has been hesitant to agree with those that compare Norris to current champion Max Verstappen.

“It’s a tough to make a direct comparison until he’s in a top team and regularly running upfront,” explained the Australian, who was partnered with Verstappen during the Dutchman’s early years at Red Bull.

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“I’m obviously not trying to discredit him, but [it’s hard to compare] until you really win and see how you handle that [pressure].

“It’s where I go back to Lewis and it’s like: ‘Yeah, he was winning and the car is great’, but he still did it and handled the pressure.

“He still performed and did what everyone thought he could, so that is where it is hard ot make a comparison.

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“But from a driving ability, the kid is very good. I don’t know if I could say he is like Max as that is a little hard, but for now, the kid is good.”

Norris has been linked to a move to Red Bull to partner Verstappen when Sergio Perez’s contract expires at the end of 2024, with the Brit even admitting that talks have already taken place.

The 23-year-old explained that before he renewed his contract with McLaren last year, he held talks with Red Bull over a potential future with the team, before eventually choosing to show faith in his current employers and extend his contract.