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Lando Norris

McLaren 'a long way' from avenging Norris heartache

Norris narrowly missed out on a first win two years ago, but McLaren has taken a step back.

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Lando Norris has conceded McLaren remains "quite a long way" off the form that saw him narrowly miss out on a maiden F1 victory.

The British driver took pole position for the Russian Grand Prix in 2021 during a season that saw him clinch his first podium in the sport.

Lewis Hamilton emerged as Norris' main challenger in Sochi, though the Mercedes driver had looked unlikely to make the move, such was the pace of the MCL35M.

But a late rain shower prompted a dilemma: stay out on Slicks but risk running off track, or pit for Intermediates and hope for a big enough delta to make up the lost time through stopping.

Hamilton chose the latter whilst Norris risked it all on dry tyres, but increased rain intensity left the McLaren sliding off track and gifting the win to his compatriot.

The Woking-based outfit has struggled to match its form from that season since the introduction of new aerodynamic regulations and asked by the Beyond the Grid podcast if he felt a first win now felt further away than ever, Norris replied: "Confidently, I can say yes, as much as it hurts me to say it.

"The car that season, it was 0.070s off pole in Austria, or even less. It was my first podium that year. We got pole in Russia, I almost got my first win in Russia. Imola was almost a front-row start and then got deleted for track limits.

"We were close very often to these kinds of success stories, but now we struggle to get into the top 10 half the time.

"It is the first time I have been out in Q1 on general performance and I have been out three or four times now.

"So yes, by quite a long way - and it is a long, long way from where we were."

You have to be lucky

On whether he was now becoming impatient with the wait for success, Norris joked: "I was impatient in year one.

"I would say yes. F1 isn't as simple as everyone thinks it is at times. You can be lucky - Lewis came into McLaren when it was winning championships.

"People say 'are you trying to emulate Lewis Hamilton?' I wish I could say yes, but at the same time, even if you put the best driver in the world in the car I have now, not going to have won races or have achieved more than what I have.

"You have to be lucky and have things go your way. Fernando has been one of the greatest drivers ever in F1 and people say, whether it is his fault or not, that he has made the wrong decisions with teams he has joined and that he should have scored five championships, but he has two.

"It is complicated but at the same time, you have to learn that being patient is what you have got to do when you get to F1.

"You can be the best driver in the world but if you don't have the car behind you, you're not going to win the race."

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