McLaren boss Zak Brown has tipped Lando Norris to push Daniel Ricciardo extremely hard as the drivers prepare to suit up as teammates for the 2021 Formula 1 season.
It’s a mouth-watering prospect for the American as McLaren look to build on the momentum of last season’s third-place finish with the addition of Ricciardo, who most class as a world-championship calibre driver. But Norris has produced a number of mature performances in his first two seasons with the British team and Brown expects him to keep improving.
"I think Lando has done an excellent job," Brown said. "If we look at what we asked him to do year one; our review was he had an excellent year and we wanted him to pick up his aggressiveness. He showed such maturity not making rookie mistakes which you expect, and I think he demonstrated his speed, we just wanted him to dial up the aggressiveness a bit.
"If you look at what he did last year, he and Carlos are even again - effectively - in qualifying and pretty much even on points so Lando had an even better year as far as points versus his teammate. He had some awesome starts, some awesome races and some awesome battles which was an area we wanted to see him step up and he has done that."
Indeed, the 21-year-old scored almost double the amount of points in 2020 as he did the previous year and also secured his first podium finish in Formula 1 at the season-opening Austrian Grand Prix. He’s already ran the more experienced Carlos Sainz close over the course of a season, so there’s no reason he can’t repeat the feat against Ricciardo, but whatever happens, Brown is certain that having the Australian at the team can only help Norris.
"This year will be his third year," Brown added. "Clearly, Daniel has a lot more experience but I think it’s time for Lando to no longer be a rookie. It’ll be a less experienced driver than Daniel but I expect them to push each other extremely hard and I think Lando will continue to grow with having someone like Daniel as his teammate."