McLaren driver Lando Norris says that his former team-mate Carlos Sainz is one of the quickest drivers in Formula 1, and admits that he was “a bit in his shadow.”
The pair raced together at the Woking-based outfit in 2019 and 2020, with Sainz out-scoring his younger team-mate in both seasons.
Interestingly though, Norris out-qualified the 27-year-old 20 times in 38 races in what was an impressive opening couple of seasons in F1 for the Briton.
He also managed to out-race Sainz 11-10 in 2019, though the Spaniard ended the championship 47 points and five positions ahead of the 22-year-old.
As a result, Norris feels as though Sainz was further in the forefront than himself, and concedes that he feels his former team-mate made him “not look so good.”
“I think Carlos is one of the best Formula 1 drivers. It also made me not look so good because he’s an extremely good driver. He did a very good job,” said Norris, as quoted by Motorsport-Total.com.
“I think I was a bit in his shadow because he did a great job,” he added.
Sainz moved to Ferrari at the start of the 2021 season to replace Sebastian Vettel, who headed to Aston Martin.
The Spaniard out-scored team-mate Charles Leclerc in his debut season with Ferrari, ending the season fifth in the Drivers’ Standings, while the Monegasque finished seventh.
Norris believes that, having perhaps slipped under the radar, his former team-mate and good friend left no one in any doubt of his abilities.
“More and more people are now realising what he’s capable of,” said Norris, though he did insist that in time he would have become “even a little bit better than him” had they remained in partnership at McLaren for longer.
Norris, meanwhile, teamed up with Daniel Ricciardo in 2021, who switched over from Renault following two years of poor performance from the Enstone-based team.
The Australian won seven races with Red Bull between 2014 and 2018, and was tipped by many to out-perform Norris when he arrived at the British team.
However, Norris out-qualified him 15-7 and out-raced him by the same score.
The Briton did not feel any jitters about being joined at McLaren by a driver of Ricciardo’s calibre.
“I didn’t feel nervous when he came [to McLaren],” said Norris.
“A lot of people thought maybe he was…because he has won several races.
“Everyone knows what Daniel is capable of because he has been in a car that has won races.”
Ferrari beat McLaren to third in the Constructors’ Championship last year, pipping them in the final round of the season in Abu Dhabi.
Norris ended the year sixth in the Drivers’ Championship, with Ricciardo 45 points behind in eighth.
Ricciardo led Norris home for the first McLaren 1-2 since 2010 at the action-packed 2021 Italian Grand Prix.