Two-time F1 world champion Emerson Fittipaldi has hailed the title-winning potential of McLaren driver Lando Norris after impressing last time out in Australia.
McLaren enjoyed a strong first pre-season test in Barcelona but dropped off the pace in Bahrain and at the opening two races of the year after suffering brake cooling issues, something that required the team to run a suboptimal interim solution.
But in Australia, McLaren registered its first double-point score of the season with Norris leading home team-mate Daniel Ricciardo as the pair finished fifth and sixth.
Since arriving in F1 in 2019, Norris has been touted for future success and Fittipaldi is the latest to add his name to the 22-year-old's list of admirers.
"I think Lando Norris has already established himself as what I call a potential, world champion material," former McLaren driver Fittipaldi told VegasInsider.
"Norris and Daniel Ricciardo are going to be strong again [this weekend], without a doubt. They have the potential to be on the podium in Imola.”
McLaren backed for 'strong Imola'
Following McLaren's improved performance in Australia, Norris warned that the pace of the MCL36 was track-specific and urged caution over raising expectations for future races.
However, Fittipaldi revealed McLaren Racing CEO Zak Brown is confident the team will enjoy a purple patch at the coming events.
“I was with McLaren in Jeddah [Saudi Arabia], and Zak Brown confirmed that they'll continue to get better for each race," added Fittipaldi.
"For the next four-five grands prix. McLaren is running strong but should be stronger at Imola.
“McLaren was without a doubt the most improved team at the grand prix in Australia.”