Self-doubt plagued Norris at the beginning of his Formula 1 career, which also had an impact on his performances, but for 2021 the British driver has found a new level of performance; bringing with it a new hope as a British number 1 in F1 – Norris has improved season after season, and according to the young McLaren driver, experience is the secret recipe that allowed him to perform so well last season.
His breakthrough came in the 2021 Formula One season when the youngster took his first pole position and narrowly missed out on his first Grand Prix victory in Russia. The season as a whole has increased his value in the paddock immensely.
Further, Norris has eclipsed by a country mile Daniel Ricciardo, an experienced and respected driver and a faint title hopeful himself at the start of the 2014 season when he alone was able to keep some pace with the runaway Mercedes car, whilst the Australian was driving a relatively poor Red Bull.
Ricciardo finished last season in eighth place, beaten by Norris 15 times in 22 races.
“I hate to give an excuse like lack of experience,” explains Norris.
“It’s so easy to say, ‘Oh, I’m just not that experienced’, and I wouldn’t like to bring up ‘lack of experience’ as an explanation. “I don’t like having to say that sometimes, and I didn’t want to think it would make much difference.”
Ricciardo has given Norris a new benchmark and the McLaren talent says that has also had a positive impact on his development. “It’s been a combination of understanding from previous years, a fresh start, a different teammate and so on, and a slightly better car that I have more confidence in,” Norris said.
“So I’ve really noticed the difference more than maybe first year and second year,” explains the McLaren talent, who is “very happy” with his development in the 2021 season. He has also worked on his weaknesses and “even turned some of them into strengths”.
For the McLaren management, it is clear, Norris is the future for the team and almost certainly for UK’s Formula 1 hopes beyond Lewis Hamilton; who appears to be willing to come back this season, but for how long?
Indeed it looks like Hamilton’s star is gradually falling further downward in the eyes of the paddock and fans alike, the latest news is ditching of the BLM gesture of dropping down onto a knee prior to the race start. The ever canny ex Ferrari man and current MD of F1, Stefano Domenicali says that instead of pointing out social problems with gestures, it is now time to “do something” to increase diversity in motorsport.
“I think now it’s about to go from gesture to action.”
An underhand comment perhaps, aimed at Hamilton’s rather superficial gesture.