Lando Norris debunks myth about MCL36, denies favouritism over Daniel Ricciardo

Lando Norris is currently best of the rest in the Drivers' Championship.

McLaren’s Lando Norris has revealed that this year’s car has not suited his driving style any better than it has Daniel Ricciardo’s.

The Australian was signed to the Woking-based side to partner Norris at the start of the 2021 season, but asides from his victory in Monza, he struggled to find any consistent performances.

The 33-year-old ended up 45 points behind his team-mate in the championship, so better things were expected in 2022 under the new technical regulations.

The British side did not have a good car coming into the new campaign, and Ricciardo finished 14th ahead of 15th-placed Norris in the season opener in Bahrain.

READ: McLaren admit ‘aggressive approach’ as they try to fight Alpine

Since then, the 22-year-old has been in the points 13 times, while Ricciardo has managed four top 10 results.

The Perth native was given the hurry-up by CEO Zak Brown, and improvements started arriving partway into the season, before results slowly began to drop off again.

Eventually, both sides had to accept that the partnership, for whatever reason, had not panned out as hoped, and the eight-time race winner will leave at the end of the season.

One of the theories for Ricciardo’s struggles is that the nature of the car has not suited him, and while that may be true, Norris asserts that this does not mean to say it does suit him.

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“There have been things said that [Daniel] doesn’t suit the car and stuff, and everyone thinks that I do suit the car and the car is made around me, but it couldn’t be more untrue,” he said on the Beyond the Grid Podcast. 

“Not that I hate driving the car I am driving now, but it is very unsuited to my driving style.

“I would say at the beginning of the year, it suited Daniel a lot more than it suited me, in terms of how you had to drive it.

“And that is something I really struggled with at the beginning of the season. I am coping with, or adapted to it a lot more now – I would say more well suited to it.

“But it is far from a car that I would want in an ideal world and, say, if I wanted to go and do the best lap possible and give me that car to go and do so, it is definitely not the car that I have now.”

Norris entered Formula 1 in 2019 alongside Carlos Sainz, and he out-qualified the Spaniard, who went on to finish ahead in the standings, scoring a podium in Brazil in the process.

That year was one of adaptation to the pinnacle of motorsport for Norris, and this year’s car leaves him needing to adapt in a similar way.

“I feel like I am driving a pretty similar car in terms of characteristics as the car I drove in my first year in Formula 1,” he explained.

“It’s changed in little ways but nothing I would say now is more adapted to me than in my first year of racing.”

The Bristol-born driver signed a new contract at the start of this year that will see him remain at McLaren until the end of the 2025 season.

This is a sign that be believes the eight-time champions can climb out of the midfield and achieve their first championship success since 2008.

“The fact that I would sign a contract like that, the fact that I know in the short term I wasn’t going to win races,” said Norris.

“I knew that last year I wasn’t going to win, this year I am not going to win, next year there is a reasonable chance that we won’t win, and I signed up knowing of all that.

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“So, it’s not like I signed up for any other reason bar knowing that long term, I have the faith that we can achieve things together and I think that will make things sweeter than just joining a team which has a chance of winning races.

“I have a lot of faith in the team… and we have a strong team at the minute, in terms of culture, in terms of atmosphere within, I think we are definitely in the best place we’ve ever been.” 

Norris is seventh in the Drivers’ Standings heading into the final six rounds of the year, while McLaren are fifth in the teams’ battle, 18 points adrift of Alpine in the battle for fourth.