McLaren’s Lando Norris believes that the more he races against experienced drivers, the better he will become.
Norris managed four podiums over the course of 2021, scoring points 20 times in 22 races.
He out-qualified vastly more experienced team-mate Daniel Ricciardo 15-7 during the Australian’s debut season with the Woking outfit, and frequently battled with some of the fastest and most experienced drivers on the grid.
Sir Lewis Hamilton described his young compatriot as “such a great driver” at the Styrian Grand Prix following their battle, and many F1 pundits have heaped praise on the young Briton.
Norris says it is not just a physical battle, but a mental challenge to race the top dogs in Formula 1.
“They’re not just in better cars, but generally the guys who are in better cars are also going to be the more experienced or better drivers. So there’s a little bit more pressure, because you know that they’ll think of every plan or strategy possible for how to get past you and so on,” said Norris.
The 22-year-old affirms that he has learned a lot from the nuances of his on-track rivals since his arrival into the sport in 2019.
“That’s the only thing, is that you know that they will be thinking of every single thing possible in order to attack you and to race against you and overtake you.”
He then went into the intricacies of why competing with drivers such as Hamilton, Valtteri Bottas, Max Verstappen and Sergio Perez gives him such a morale boost.
“The only thing it really gives you is confidence that, if you’re there more often or you have a better car, then there’s no reason why they should be able to beat you if you’re in the same car.
“Every time I raced against Lewis or [Valtteri] Bottas, or Max or [Sergio] Perez, I think the only thing it really gives you is more confidence,” he said.
The McLaren driver feels that his experience of the last three seasons has been preparing him for when he one day finds himself in a Championship battle.
“That you know that, when you are more often in this position, whether it’s next year or in two years, then you feel ready to race against them all the time and ready to beat them.”
Norris ended the season sixth in the Drivers’ Championship, while his McLaren team ended the year fourth in the Constructors’ Standings.
The Ferrari pairing of Carlos Sainz and Charles Leclerc pipped them to the top three at the final race in Abu Dhabi after a closely fought, season-long battle for P3.