‘People will hate me’: Lando Norris makes controversial comment about Daniel Ricciardo

Lando Norris has out-performed Daniel Ricciardo since their McLaren partnership began at the start of last season.

McLaren’s Lando Norris has affirmed that he needs to focus on his own career, so cannot spend any time feeling sorry for team-mate Daniel Ricciardo.

After some disappointing results for the Australian since the start of last year, the eight-time champions have decided to part ways at the end of this season.

Ricciardo had previously confirmed that both he and the team would be continuing to work together until the end of his contract next year, but a mutual agreement has been reached to let him go.

Things have rarely come together on a consistent basis for Ricciardo, who won last year’s Italian Grand Prix, earning McLaren’s first win since 2012.

READ: McLaren close to major development which could cause headache for Ferrari, Red Bull and Mercedes

But that was one of just 17 points finishes he has managed since the start of last year, while Norris has been in the top 10 31 times in the 35 races that the pair have partnered each other.

The 22-year-old finished ahead of 45 points in 2021, and leads by 57 points so far in 2022, so he has dominated the intra-team battle since the former Red Bull driver’s arrival from Renault.

While Norris and Ricciardo have always shared a good relationship, which extends back to before the 33-year-old signed with McLaren, the Briton has no time to feel sorry for his team-mate amid his disappointing spell in Papaya.

“I don’t feel like you have to have sympathy for any driver because they’ve not been able to do as good a job,” Norris said, quoted by the BBC, before adding that he “hated to say it.”

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“People will probably hate me for saying it,” he continued. 

“I’ve just got to focus on my driving and my job, it’s not my job to focus on someone else, I’m not a driver coach. 

“I’m not here to help and do those kind of things, I’m here to perform at my absolute best and that’s about it. 

“So it’s difficult when people start to have an expectation that it’s my job to also start doing these other things and helping and describing this and doing that, when that’s not really the case. 

“And it’s also the case that if I don’t perform well for a few years that it can also be the end of my career and the end of me driving in Formula 1.”

One of the reasons for the end of Ricciardo’s McLaren career is his lack of suitability with an erratic car, but Norris has had to go through the same acclimatisation process.

“Every driver has to adapt to scenarios they are in and I feel like I’ve had to,” he explained. 

“It’s not a car that I’ve just been able to jump in and feel like I just flow with and can perform exactly how I want. 

“In the beginning of the year, Daniel was performing better than I was in the pre-season and tests and stuff, and it looked like he could go out naturally and drive the car the way he wanted to.

“And I had to start to learn a new way of driving compared to how I’ve been used to driving the car for the last few years.”

READ: Haas boss called Daniel Ricciardo as he looks for Mick Schumacher replacement

The Briton also debunked the myth that the MCL36 is more catered to him than it is to Ricciardo.

“The only thing that people get extremely wrong is, any opinion, thinking the car’s designed around me or suiting me more than it is him,” added Norris.

“If I could choose an exact driving style for me to have and for a car to suit, this car doesn’t give me anything of what I want to do.

“And therefore the job as a driver is to adapt to that and just do the best you can with the car, which is what I’m doing and maybe easier for me to do than it is for Daniel.”

Ricciardo is expected to be replaced by Alpine reserve Oscar Piastri after the 21-year-old’s rebellion against Alpine, who tried to promote the reserve driver to replace Fernando Alonso.

The Spaniard is headed to Aston Martin next year to replace the retiring Sebastian Vettel.

Vettel, for his part, suggested on Thursday that McLaren have “failed” to capitalise on Ricciardo’s talent, which the four-time champion experienced during their time together at Red Bull in 2014.