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Is Lando Norris an F1 champion in the making?

Is Lando Norris an F1 champion in the making?

F1 News

Is Lando Norris an F1 champion in the making?

Is Lando Norris an F1 champion in the making?

So far this year Lando Norris has proven himself to be the F1 driver of the season.

After five grands prix, the McLaren racer is third in the standings behind title-chasing duo Max Verstappen and Lewis Hamilton, culminating in a fine third in the Monaco Grand Prix.

There is no doubt that over the past two years since joining F1, Norris has grown in stature, as you would perhaps expect any driver to do over such a period of time.

But this is the cut-throat world of F1 where it has been proven on many an occasion over the years that only the toughest survive.

Norris is not only surviving, but he is also thriving, proving himself worthy of his place within a McLaren team on the rise, leading to the recent announcement of a new multi-year contract extension with the 21-year-old.

You could argue he arrived at McLaren at the right time, just as it began to find its feet again in 2019 after years languishing in the midfield or towards the rear. Perhaps.

But there still had to be something about Norris in that first year, otherwise, two years on, he would not be where he is now, helping to edge McLaren ever closer to challenging Mercedes and Red Bull at the front of the grid.

His performances so far this season have been exemplary, finishing fourth, third and fifth in the first three races. Eighth in Spain did not follow that pattern, but you sense Barcelona's Circuit de Catalunya was one that did not suit the MCL35M.

And then around Monaco, Norris took full advantage of the unreliability that hit the Ferrari of Charles Leclerc and Mercedes' Valtteri Bottas to again stand on the podium.

From Norris' perspective, it is quite simply a case of a number of the pieces of F1's complicated puzzle to be an F1 driver falling into place.

"I feel like I worked hard over the winter to improve in as many areas as possible, especially, of course, my weaker areas and things I struggled with last season," said Norris in an interview, including GPFans Global.

"I've come in and I guess, in a way, it's been a fresh start with Daniel [Ricciardo] coming in and Carlos [Sainz] leaving. I feel like I have more responsibility within the team, a slightly different role, being the more experienced guy with McLaren.

"So, a bit of that and just feeling like I am working harder, I am more interested in different things, I feel like I have more responsibility and a slightly bigger role now to really help the team push forward.

"We are just working together as a team, and with the people I work with, very well. So my engineer, my performance engineer and the guys who really look after me, I speak to all the time, I work with, I do the simulator stuff with, we are just putting a lot of time and effort in to improve and be as good as we can be. It is as simple as that.

"It's just a lot of small things but when you put them all together they have shown so far this season how much they can have an effect and how much they mean."

Norris is fully aware, however, that while he and the team are on an upward trajectory, the hard work he speaks of is really only just beginning.

The three podiums he has enjoyed so far in his 42-race F1 career are naturally welcome, but to make the step up to the next level requires what separates the good drivers from those that eventually go on to win races and championships.

"The important thing for me now is keeping this up, the consistency part of it," assessed Norris. "Maybe every now and then in the last couple of years I've had a weekend, a qualifying session or a race like I've had in the past few weekends.

"The first three weekends I've just had very good weekends, not just a qualifying or a race. I've had a good qualifying, I've nailed all the laps I've been able to nail - apart from Q3 in Imola and maybe Q3 in Portugal. Apart from that, I've got into Q3 when I've had the opportunity.

"As a driver I feel I've done very well in the races, racing back through, overtaking, managing the tyres, the strategy and everything like that.

"As a weekend as a whole, I feel like I've done the best I've ever done. As an absolute performance, I feel like I've done very strong, and now it's more like the consistency part of it.

"I know I can do well, but it's keeping it up every weekend, keeping up the consistency, and I feel like that's a more difficult thing.

"Every now and then you have a good race and things can go very well. So how often can you keep this up, keep this performance, nailing my qualifying laps and things like that? How long can I keep that going?

"Like everyone, I know eventually I'm going to make a mistake, and I'm going to kick myself, a bigger one than the one in Imola.

"But I will keep trying to do what I'm doing at the moment, and of course, there's pressure and stuff to do that. It's just the way Formula 1 is. You always feel like there's pressure.

"But the consistency part is the harder part than delivering every now and then. It's keeping it up which is going to be tough."

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