Double F1 champion tips McLaren to score podium at 2022 Imola GP

Lando Norris and Daniel Ricciardo together scored 18 points at the 2022 Australian Grand Prix.

Double Formula 1 world champion Emerson Fittipaldi predicts McLaren will have the pace to compete for a podium at the 2022 Emilia Romagna Grand Prix.

McLaren made a torrid start to the 2022 campaign as they tried to get to grips with a temperamental car that performed well in the first pre-season test in Barcelona, but suffered a combination of brake and engine issues in Bahrain.

Neither Lando Norris nor Daniel Ricciardo managed points in the season opener as the Woking side failed to reach Q3 with either car for the first time in 25 races in a run that stretched back to the Turkish Grand Prix of 2020.

Norris managed to pick up P7 after an enthralling midfield fight in Saudi Arabia, and it felt in Melbourne as though the British team had managed to break clear of the rest of the midfield runners as the Briton ended the race P5, one position ahead of the 32-year-old, who grabbed his first points finish of the season.

Norris suggested after the race though that the pace displayed in Australia was likely track specific, but Fittipaldi takes a more optimistic view, indicating that his former team along with their engine suppliers Mercedes have made tremendous progress.

“Both Mercedes and McLaren know how to work within the new rules. In terms of mechanical grip, they improved a lot. The engine has also improved quite a lot,” the Brazilian told

“Lando Norris and Daniel Ricciardo are going to be strong again. Without a doubt.”

Fittiapldi, who won his titles in 1972 and 1974 with Lotus and McLaren respectively, makes the bold prediction that Ricciardo and Norris will have the package underneath them to trouble Mercedes, Red Bull and Ferrari for the podium spots.

“They (Norris and Ricciardo) have the potential to be on the podium in Imola,” he added.

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On the face of it, and going by the abject start to the year, one might believe that this apprehension of such fortunes might be a little rambunctious on the 75-year-old’s part, but he divulges that the talks he had with McLaren CEO Zak Brown were indicative of a team on the up.

“I was with McLaren in Jeddah, and Zak Brown confirmed that they’ll continue to get better for each race. For the next four-five Grands Prix,” he explained.

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“McLaren was without a doubt the most improved team at the Grand Prix in Australia.”

“McLaren is running strong but should be stronger at Imola. I’m sure they will continue to improve a lot for the Grand Prix in Imola.”

As for Norris, he has tied himself down to a contract until the end of 2025 after three impressive years at the Woking side.

A win certainly does not feel far off for the five-time podium finisher, but Fittipaldi, having won two titles and brought up Enzo and Pietro – two established names in the racing world – knows a thing or two about what it takes to be a world champion.

He affirms that the Briton has the ingredients to claim the ultimate prize in the pinnacle of motorsport.

“I think Lando Norris has already established himself as what I call a potential, World Champion material,” he stated.