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Was Norris too harsh on himself with stinging criticism last year?

The British driver has been a shining star for McLaren yet was highly self-critical at points in the second half of last season. Was he too harsh on himself?

Norris Abu Dhabi
To news overview © XPBimages

Lando Norris enters the new F1 season fresh from signing a multi-year contract extension with McLaren.

The Woking-based team gave the British driver his F1 opportunity and despite some bleak years, a remarkable engineering effort last season has put the partnership in the thick of the podium fight - and potentially victories.

Despite Norris being hailed as one of the shining stars of the season for his on-track exploits, there were a number of occasions where he let his own self-criticism into the public eye following errors - but was he too harsh on himself given his results?

McLaren's turnaround

The fact McLaren was in a position to fight for pole positions and podiums at the tail end of last season was quite astounding given the early-campaign form displayed.

Bahrain proved to be a miserable season opener and Saudi Arabia wasn't much better. By Monaco, Norris suggested the MCL60 was only the seventh-fastest car on track.

But changes were made to the technical management structure and an influx of upgrades were added to stunning effect at the Austrian Grand Prix, where Norris instantly joined the front-runners.

The car was revitalised and through the second half of the season, Norris picked up six second places and a third to help McLaren finish fourth in the Constructors', ahead of fast-starting Aston Martin.

Biggest critic

Whilst Norris has always been his own biggest critic, he was especially hard on himself at two races in particular.

After track limit abuses in Qatar Grand Prix qualifying, he rued throwing away a chance at pole position: "I just had a correct on oversteer and I went off," he said post-session

"The team have done a good job, I just messed it up."

Similar criticism came after failing to grab pole at the season-ending Abu Dhabi Grand Prix: "The car was very good out there. I was on a lap quick enough to go P1, but didn't do it. Another Saturday that I've thrown away, disappointed.

"It was the mistake in the last sector that ruined everything. I don't know what happened. The car ahead, I'm not going to blame him for getting in my way, it makes the tiniest difference but we are close enough on the limit on the final qualifying lap, that the tiniest difference can upset the car completely, like I had."

Whilst the dejection can often come across as a way to beat himself up to the public, it has seemingly been a source of motivation for race days. Rarely does Norris follow up one bad day with another and therefore this might be a coping mechanism - something he has suggested in a recent interview.

It is not such a dissimilar tactic from what we have seen with Charles Leclerc in recent years, where the criticism fuels the fire to some regard.

What Norris must do is ensure any constant self-criticism doesn't bring him down over time. For those outside the loop, it comes across as harsh given he was often next-best to Max Verstappen late in the season.

Hopefully for McLaren, there won't be a need for self-criticism this season anyway.

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