According to former McLaren driver Carlos Sainz, the team have a potential world champion on their hands, in the form of Lando Norris.
Each year has seen a progression in his driving skillset. Which is now at a point where he can genuinely compete with the big boys of F1.
After scoring his first F1 podium last year, Norris has gone on to chalk up two more podium finishes, during the opening five races of the 2021 season.
— McLaren (@McLarenF1) May 24, 2021
Not only that, Norris is playing a far larger role in the development of the car. And, also taking onboard a leadership role within the team. Something many thought would fall to the more experienced Daniel Ricciardo.
Having worked closely with Norris during his two years with McLaren, former teammate Carlos Sainz places the young Brit firmly towards the top of potential F1 world champions.
“I think there are a bunch of drivers now that are on a very similar level of performance,” Sainz said. “I would include Lando among them, that they are potential world champions, and they just need the right car to win it.
“I would include myself, I would include Charles [Leclerc] of course, and many others. The level in Formula 1 is so high that unfortunately, we are more dependent on what the team is capable of rather than I think what we can do.
“But I believe Lando has the potential to win and take McLaren to the top.”
The road ahead for Norris
What lies ahead for Norris is only something that time will tell. McLaren are on the rise after enjoying successful seasons in both 2019/20. And that climb looks to continue for the team, who currently sit third in the Constructors’ Championship.
As for Norris, after his podium finish at the Monaco Grand Prix, he is sitting a very respectable third in the Drivers’ Championship. Behind only Max Verstappen and Lewis Hamilton.
While that may only be temporary, should Valtteri Bottas regain some momentum. Along with the ever increasing fight from the Ferrari pair of Charles Leclerc and the aforementioned Sainz. It is nonetheless a positive sign for what may in store for Norris down the track.
A newly signed contract with McLaren linking him with the Woking-based team until at least the end of 2023, will also provide him the stability to continue to flourish in an environment that he is now embedded with.
The introduction of new regulations in 2022, aimed at making a tighter and more equally competitive field, should assist Norris in his quest for F1 supremacy. In what is hoped will provide McLaren with the opportunity to mix it with the likes of Mercedes and Red Bull on a more consistent basis.