Lando Norris doesn’t feel extra pressure from Daniel Ricciardo’s McLaren arrival
Lando Norris says the pressure is on big-name signing Daniel Ricciardo to deliver at McLaren this season.
British driver Norris is gearing up for his third Formula One campaign, and he will team up with seven-time grand prix winner Ricciardo following his transfer from Renault.
The Australian, 31, is among the grid’s most established names and arrives at McLaren on a three-year contract as the British team bidds to continue its revival.
In his opening two seasons, Norris was evenly matched with team-mate Carlos Sainz, and following the Spaniard’s switch to Ferrari in place of four-time world champion Sebastian Vettel, he does not expect to be shown up by McLaren’s new man.
“I don’t think the arrival of Daniel will make it any harder for me,” said the 21-year-old as McLaren, who will be powered by Mercedes this season, became the first team to launch their 2021 car.
“I worked with Carlos who is an extremely good driver and there are things Carlos is going to be better at than Daniel and vice-versa.
“I don’t believe Daniel is a big step above anything that Carlos has achieved, and there is more pressure on him because he has been in Formula One for longer and he has to come in and perform very well.
“It is harder for someone to go up against a much younger driver than it is for a younger driver going up against someone with more experience.
“I am in that earlier phase of my career but I still need to perform very well, and there are no excuses for me anymore.”
Norris helped McLaren to third in last season’s constructors’ championship – their best result since Lewis Hamilton left for Mercedes at the end of 2012.
He also became the youngest British driver to finish on the podium after taking third at the opening round in Austria last year before ending the campaign ninth in the overall standings. Following Sainz’s exit, he wants to become the team’s go-to guy.
“I have more responsibility on me now than the past few years to lead the team,” added Norris.
“In many ways it is going to be the hardest season because I am the guy with the experience at McLaren so I need to take on that role and show how it is done. It is a big opportunity for me to take up that lead and I will work very hard on doing that.”
Ricciardo will be desperate to challenge for podiums after recording just two top-three finishes at Renault following his surprise decision to quit Red Bull.
Ricciardo said: “I feel like this team has a bunch of momentum and there is good stability.
“When I first talked to McLaren in 2018 there were still quite a few moving parts. The results were not there on track, and they were trying to figure out their own structure.
“They have established that now and I am fitting into the puzzle as opposed to putting it all together.”