Mika Hakkinen claims Lando Norris would cause trouble for Max Verstappen

Lando Norris pitted six times during the Bahrain Grand Prix, following a pneumatic pressure leak.

Double world champion Mika Hakkinen believes McLaren star Lando Norris is “on the same level” as both Ferrari drivers and friend Max Verstappen, with the Finn labelling the 23-year-old as a “super-talented” driver.

Norris has certainly achieved an incredible amount since moving to the Woking-based team in 2019, with the British driver having led the British side for the bulk of his stay to-date.

Since moving to the pinnacle of motorsport in 2019, Norris has claimed six podiums and one pole position for the midfield side.

Last season’s Emilia Romagna Grand Prix saw Norris claim one of his most impressive podiums, with his third-place finish at Imola having been the only occasion in 2022 when a midfield driver claimed a podium.

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It’s easy to see why Hakkinen is such a huge fan of Norris, with him being “on a very high level speed-wise”.

“A very quick driver, he’s achieved a lot, or rather he’s shown convincing results consistently,” Hakkinen told Unibet International.

“He’s super-talented, no question about it. He’s on the same level as Leclerc, Verstappen and Sainz. He’s on a very high level speed-wise.”

Based on the season-opener in Bahrain, Norris doesn’t look set to add on his podium tally anytime soon, with McLaren having endured a woeful start to the season.

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Norris was the last driver to cross the line at the Bahrain International Circuit after having to pit six times, whilst Oscar Piastri retired due to a technical fault.

McLaren certainly have several issues to solve this season should they wish to fight for fifth in the constructors’ championships, with Hakkinen believing that his former side don’t have “very high expectations” for 2023.

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“I don’t think McLaren has very high expectations this year,” Hakkinen explained.

“They know their development department, and their sponsors and partners are world-class technology giants. McLaren has their support but the team knows they aren’t quite there yet. The result need a couple more years.

“They are in it for the long run and have good partners. Like I said, there might be some results this year but I think the true performance will be seen in a couple of years.”