McLaren team principal Andreas Seidl does not yet want to put Lando Norris in the same category as greats like Sir Lewis Hamilton and Michael Schumacher, but he is very aware of the fantastic racing driver he has on his hands.
Norris has scored points in five of the opening seven rounds of the 2022 season, and managed a fantastic podium finish at the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix.
He has out-qualified eight-time race winner Daniel Ricciardo 21 times in 19 races, and so nearly took victory at last year’s Russian Grand Prix but for a strategical error in changing conditions.
The 22-year-old is evidently one of the most accomplished racers in the field and, even given his astronomical progress since his already impressive debut year in 2019, his talent shows no sign of saturating any time soon.
Seidl is delighted to have the young Briton tied down to a contract that keeps him at the Woking-based side until at least the end of 2025, and hopes that they can give him a car capable of competing for titles in the coming years.
“It’s just too early to compare Lando to a Lewis Hamilton or Michael Schumacher, but there is a reason why we have entered into a long-term contract with him,” he said.
“He has shown us with his progression and performance that he has something special. That was also true in Monaco.
“He delivers right away, that’s impressive. It’s also important for the team.
“We are currently in a fierce battle for P4 in the championship, where we are up against strong competitors. They also have fast cars and good drivers.
“In any case, I am very happy Lando is with us. He has potential and has shown a lot already. It is simply our job to give him a better car in the years to come.”
As Ricciardo continues to find form in his McLaren career, the threat looms that the British side may decide to terminate his contract before its expiry date at the end of next year.
Things are just not clicking at the moment for the Australian, who has only scored points twice this year, in Melbourne and the sprint race in Imola.
Since the P6 in the short race at the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix, the 32-year-old has gone four races without any points, but the boss is determined to work with him to finally rediscover the pace that has won him eight races – including the Italian Grand Prix last year.
“In this situation, the key is to keep going for it and analyse the data every weekend to help Daniel achieve his goal,” added Seidl.
“He doesn’t feel comfortable in the car at the moment, especially when he has to push to the limit in qualifying.
“On top of that, he’s up against Lando. That’s the current situation but Daniel is dedicated and experienced.”
McLaren are currently fourth in the Constructors’ Championship after seven rounds, 75 points behind third-placed Mercedes and 18 above Alfa Romeo.