McLaren driver Lando Norris has firmly rejected the notion that Red Bull Racing is crafting its Formula 1 cars solely to accommodate the driving preferences of their star racer, Max Verstappen.
Red Bull has dominated the 2023 season, clinching the Constructors’ Championship title with six rounds to spare, boasting an impressive record of victories in all but one of the 16 races thus far.
While Max Verstappen has been the driving force behind Red Bull’s success, securing a remarkable 13 race wins, including a record-breaking streak of 10 consecutive victories between Miami and Monza, his teammate Sergio Perez has only managed to secure victory twice.
Perez’s struggles earlier in the year were underscored by a failure to reach Q3 in qualifying at five consecutive events, which prompted Mercedes Team Principal Toto Wolff to suggest that Red Bull was tailoring its cars to Verstappen’s driving style.
Despite Verstappen vehemently refuting such allegations, Perez’s comments further fuelled rumours that Red Bull’s RB19 car had been developed primarily to suit Verstappen’s preferences this season.
However, Lando Norris has aligned himself with Verstappen’s perspective, firmly asserting that it is ultimately the driver’s responsibility to extract the maximum performance from the car provided by the team.
“It’s not down to the team to just make a car designed for a person,” Norris emphasised.
“Maybe that’s a perfect world. It’s our job to deliver no matter what the car is.
“Max said something very similar the other day after Toto made the comment about the Red Bull.
“I don’t think you can just design a car for someone. It just doesn’t work like that.
“It’s very much down to the driver to drive the car they’re given.
“I think this way, if I end up being slower than my team-mates because of whatever reason, then I’m not doing a good enough job.
“It’s as simple as that.
“It’s the driver’s job.
“That’s why we’re here.”
Despite McLaren’s transformation from a back marker to a regular podium contender during the mid-season, Norris emphasised that he still faces the same car limitations.
The British driver, who has secured four podium finishes this season, acknowledged that he would always prefer a fast race car that presents challenges over a slower car that perfectly suits his style.
“For me, the most important thing is to make a quick car,” Norris stated.
“I think what people fail to understand sometimes from the outside is that a driver’s job is to drive whatever car they are given as quickly as possible.
“Yes, you want the car to be nice to you and suit you.
“But drivers get paid enough money to make the best of every circumstance.
“Whether it’s a car they like, they don’t like, is tricky, is safe, whatever it is.
“It’s our job to go and just drive what the team gives us.
“You can have a quick car and one that is great to drive but at the end of the day, I will always pick driving a difficult car that’s quick than a nice car that’s slow.
“And I think we know that our priority is just to make a quick car.
“If it’s difficult, it’s difficult, then we can work on making it a better car to drive.
“But at the end of the day, I care what car I drive because I would love a nice car to drive.
“But I would pick every day a quicker car over an easy car.
“Because I think that’s our job.”