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How Ricciardo's failure has helped Norris to become 'selfish'

Lando Norris has become McLaren's team leader in 2023, placing extra responsibility on his shoulders to drive development.

Even if he was de facto team leader owing to Daniel Ricciardo's struggles in 2022, this season is officially the first season with Lando Norris as the number one driver at the McLaren Formula 1 team. Raised by the Woking squad from the junior ranks up to Grand Prix racing, Norris is firmly Zak Brown's driver, who helped guide the team through somewhat of a resurgence between 2019 and 2021 when semi-regular podiums were forthcoming as well as pole positions. Perhaps, on another day, that elusive first Grand Prix victory cruelly denied by late rain at the 2021 Russian Grand Prix would have been ticked off for the loyal and competitive Norris, who signed a long-term deal until the end of 2025 before '22 even began. But that progress has been stunted in the ground effects era, with McLaren in something of a holding pattern while the technical restructuring takes places, with the marquee signing being that of Adrian Newey-lieutenant Rob Marshall from Red Bull. With Ricciardo's departure and the arrival of Oscar Piastri, Norris has become team leader, in his fifth season of F1, and as he explains he has been quite firm in telling the team exactly what he wants from the car.

Norris: I need to be selfish

"I'm very specific in what I want from the car, and things just haven't really changed much over the last few years," Norris told media, including RacingNews365.com . "[There are] still embedded things that we just haven't gotten rid off, and I feel I've been quite forceful trying to make these points and get them across. "It's the easy thing [to say] I just want more front and rear [from the car], it's too easy like this, I'm sure when you look at some of the top guys, like Ferrari, at points on the track, it would have the same amount of load as the Red Bull, but then it is how it delivers the load through a corner, how it is in terms of handling, and characteristics when you need it. "I feel like that's just where we've got a bit lost, when you struggle so much with the overall package of the car, it is hard to pick out the smaller things. "But I think because we're more confident in being able to work on the overall package and the finer details at the same time, I can be more clear, decisive and selfish in terms of saying what I really want from the car for me."

Working with Piastri

Like Norris, Piastri was highly rated throughout his junior career, claiming both the Formula 3 and Formula 2 titles in his rise up the ranks. He was nabbed away from Alpine to add some fresh blood into the driving line-up following Ricciardo's inability to work his way out of the alarming rut he found himself in. Piastri's signing was a mirror image of Norris himself, who came in as a rookie to a more experienced teammate (Carlos Sainz) and was certainly fast enough to cause one or two headaches. Detailing their working relationship, Norris says he will help Piastri if he asks, but that it is not "his job" to babysit the Australian. "I'm doing a lot of what I do, and doing it better than I would have done in the past," he says. "I try not to overcomplicate things, so it's clear and easy for him to read, understand and learn, but I also don't consciously sit down with him to go through the data and go: 'Come on, you can do a better job.' "That is not my job, not what I am here to do, but whenever he has asked me questions or something or we have discussions, I've always been very happy and open to talk about things. "At the end of the day, whether I finished 16th or 17th, it isn't changing my day or the way I work. Maybe if we were a bit further up at the front, it changes a little bit, but now there's just nothing to lose by helping each other out. "But he is doing a good job, although there's no sit down pep talks."

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