McLaren Racing boss Zak Brown says Lando Norris’ development in F1 has pushed the young Briton to a level where he is now “as fast as anyone on the grid”.
Norris was promoted to F1 with McLaren in 2019 and has enjoyed a steady progress since his rookie year in the sport.
The 21-year-old scored his first podium finish in F1 last season in Austria and notched up two more this year.
Addressing the ongoing adaptation of teammate Daniel Ricciardo, Brown said that Norris now represents “a great bar” for the Aussie.
“What we’re seeing out of Daniel is he’s getting quicker every weekend,” said Brown. “His work ethic is great, his attitude is great, and he and the team are just working more closely together.
“So I’m extremely confident that he’ll get to his ultimate pace here shortly. I think adapting to a new car in a COVID era, where you have reduced testing, has certainly not made it easy on him.
“He’s got a teammate who I think is as fast as anyone on the grid. So he’s got a great bar to race against.”
Brown underscored Norris’ level of maturity, but also the young Briton’s reliability as a driver even after he was asked to take his driving to the next level.
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“Lando has matured really well, he came in as a rookie, and already drove really mature,” added the McLaren boss. “If you look at some of the other rookies that came in, they had a lot of accidents.
“While they showed speed, they got over the limit one too many times. Lando really hasn’t. He’s shown great pace and maturity from the word go.
“Then what we asked him to do last year and this year is to actually be a little bit more on the limit, to almost encourage, it’s OK if you go off every once in a while. And what we’ve seen is he’s sped up even more, gotten his elbows out, but he’s still keeping the car on the track, which is great.
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“Now his mistakes are little track limits in Italy, when he was going to be P3. So he’s upped his aggressiveness, his starts, his first laps, but very much in controlled way.
“As you would expect in the first year, would sometimes take a little bit of time to learn the circuit, and the set-up, and would kind of follow Carlos [Sainz]. Now what we’re seeing is Friday, first session, he’s on it right away.
“So we’re extremely happy with how Lando has performed, and we think he’s performing at a very high level.”
McLaren F1 team boss Andreas Seidl echoed Brown’s praise for Norris, noting the latter’s step forward this season.
“I think with everything we have seen from him it just shows that again he has made a big step forward this year and also, it is simply great to see that after a qualifying lap that maybe doesn’t go to plan or a race start that doesn’t go to plan… he stays calm,” explained Seidl.
“He knows his opportunities are coming, he manages his tyres when he has to and then he uses the potential that is there, when the opportunities come up in the race.
“And it’s really great to see how he grew into this the last two and half years and but scoring in each race means the team is doing a great job in terms of reliability, in terms of pit stops, race strategy, and I’m obviously very happy with what I’m seeing there.”
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