Lando Norris believes that Sir Lewis Hamilton’s dynamism will shine through in the wake of Mercedes’ struggles as they try to recover from an underwhelming start to 2022.
Mercedes have been a particular victim of the “porpoising” problem posed by the new technical regulations that now sees the downforce generated by aerodynamic parts on the floor of the car.
As a result, the Silver Arrows have found themselves a considerable margin adrift of the pace of Red Bull and Ferrari, but Norris maintains that it is refreshing to see that dominating the sport for the better part of a decade is never a guarantee of perennial success.
“In a way, it is nice to see that Mercedes don’t always have success,” he told Sportsmail.
“It shows that even when you have had that success, you can still get things wrong. It is easy to get things wrong.”
McLaren and Ferrari scored 10 podiums between them last year, and the Woking side claimed the only one-two of the season in Monza as Daniel Ricciardo won, while Ferrari’s best result was a P2 in Monaco.
The two sides spent the majority of last season battling it out for third in the Constructors’ Championship behind Mercedes and Red Bull, with the Scuderia ultimately coming out ahead.
Ferrari have taken two wins from the opening three races of the year through Charles Leclerc, while McLaren appear to have fallen backwards.
Nonetheless, Norris admits that it is good to see the Prancing Horses back at the front, as it is evidence that beating Mercedes despite their stranglehold over the Constructors’ Championship for the last eight years is possible.
“Much as I hate to say it, it is good to see Ferrari up there. It is reassuring for other teams to know it is still possible,” he added.
“If it were just Mercedes and Red Bull again, it would be so predictable.”
The 22-year-old reckons that the absence of race wins and only two podium finishes that the Silver Arrows have claimed thus far in 2022 will galvanise a new version of Hamilton as a racing driver.
“With Lewis, you are seeing the challenge of one of the best drivers competing in a car that is not the best. We will see a different side of Lewis, compared to the last decade,” added the McLaren driver.
One of the persistent comments on social media about Hamilton’s seven championships has been that of him having the fastest car on the grid.
The fact that he out-qualified Valtteri Bottas 72 times in 100 races and beat him in the championship in all of the five years they spent together might not have helped, but he matched and defeated world champions Fernando Alonso and Nico Rosberg at McLaren and Mercedes respectively, so Norris disregards the suggestion that the seven-time champion only has the car to thank.
“But I don’t think you can say it is all about the car, rather than Lewis’s ability. He has still been against very good drivers, such as Fernando (Alonso) in his first year, and then went on to achieve what everyone expected of him,” he asserted.
George Russell out-qualified and out-raced Hamilton comprehensively in Saudi Arabia in the second round of the season, before finishing ahead of him in Australia en route to a podium finish.
Norris hopes that his good friend can provide a more substantial challenge to the 103-time race winner.
“I just don’t believe in the last few years he has had quite the challenge that he could have had, or maybe that he had against Rosberg. Perhaps we will see that against George,” he affirmed.
“I don’t think anything takes away the driver he is.”
McLaren were much improved in Australia as Norris finished fifth, just in front of team-mate Daniel Ricciardo, but he confirmed after the race that it was mainly owed to the Albert Park Circuit, rather than anything tangibly different with the car.