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Norris: Ricciardo can strike back when things click at McLaren F1

Lando Norris says he is not taking it for granted that he’s got the measure of McLaren Formula 1 team-mate Daniel Ricciardo, despite outperforming the more experienced Australian in 2021.

Lando Norris, McLaren MCL35M Daniel Ricciardo, McLaren MCL35M Driver's parade

Mark Sutton / Motorsport Images

Despite being beaten by Ricciardo to McLaren’s only win of the campaign so far at the Italian Grand Prix, Norris has shone against him in their first season paired together.

The 22-year-old has amassed 153 points so far, compared to the former Renault driver's tally of 105.

But with the team aware that some of Ricciardo’s deficit down to him simply needing time to adapt to the new characteristics of the McLaren car, Norris fully accepts that the situation could change next season and that he could bounce back a different driver if the new-for-2022 car is more to his liking.

PLUS: The humbling changes Ricciardo made to deliver the goods for McLaren

Reflecting on this season’s rivalry with Ricciardo, Norris said: “I think it's been very good for me. It's also been one of the parts making me enjoy a bit more the environment.

“There's always that question of when you go up against a driver like that: are you going to do well? Is he going to beat me in every single qualifying or race of the season?

“Those thoughts go through your head a little bit for the year. So when none of that happens then you feel like 'okay, if I can do this against him and he could beat this guy when he was in the same car, then I must be in a decent place.' So it makes you think of good things.

“But then, on the flip side, it doesn't make me feel like I'm suddenly the best driver in the world. There have still been some races where he has been quicker than me and qualifying sessions where he has been a bit quicker.

“I know he's still Daniel. Once he clicks and finds his way and so on, I hope to still be quicker than him. But I know it's not going to be like, I'm always quicker because he's a very, very good driver.

“But my confidence has definitely come up with how I feel like I've performed. And it's not necessarily all because I've beaten Daniel.”

Norris has outscored Ricciardo in their first year together

Norris has outscored Ricciardo in their first year together

Photo by: Zak Mauger / Motorsport Images

In the short term, Norris needs Ricciardo to perform as well as possible as McLaren bids to try to recover lost ground to Ferrari in the constructors’ championship.

The Woking-based outfit has slipped to 39.5 points behind Ferrari with just two races remaining.

The gap between the two teams is the largest it has been all season, and Norris thinks that Ferrari’s late season engine upgrade has proved to be the game changer.

“It's helped them,” he said. “They were very good on energy before. They have a lot of deployment, which, in some circuits doesn't make a massive difference, but in other circuits definitely helps.

“When we are clipping on the straight, and we lose 20 km/h, they just keep going. It makes a big difference in terms of how you can race them and overtake and stuff.

“I think it's just been very close all season and I still believe we've done a better job as a team.

“I think there's been more races where they've been quicker, but they’ve just made more mistakes than us. They should be further ahead.

“But it's tough. If I look at the drivers’ championship, I'm still ahead of both of them [Ferrari drivers].

“Of course, I want the team to be up there. But I feel like I've done as much as I can to help out on that side of it.”

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