Lando Norris has had a solid first half of the season despite McLaren having regressed since the new rules were implemented.
Norris was a frequent podium contender last season, but things are different this time around as the 22-year old has struggled to reach the podium, much less the top five, with McLaren presently the fifth-best squad on the grid.
However, in his greatest performance of the season so far, the 22-year-old did finish third at the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix. He is currently ranking eighth in the Drivers’ Championship with 76 points, nearly 60 points ahead of his teammate Daniel Ricciardo.
It’s possible that the lacking performance is a contributing factor in Ricciardo’s decision to leave McLaren at the end of the current season with Oscar Piastri, the 2021 F2 World Champion, rumored to take Ricciardo’s seat in 2023.
Surprisingly, Norris said on the most recent Beyond the Grid podcast that he had to “cope” with the MCL36 this season since it suited his teammate better than it does him.
“We drive in different ways and therefore what we request on the car is quite different,” the Brit said. “There have been things saying ‘well he (Ricciardo) doesn’t suit the car’ and all of that stuff and everyone thinks I do suit the car and the car’s made around me and all of that stuff… but it couldn’t be more untrue.”
“Not that I hate driving the car I’m driving now, but it’s very unsuited to my driving style… and I’ll say in the beginning of the year it suited Daniel a lot more than me in terms of how you had to drive it.”
“And that’s something I really struggled with in the beginning of the season and I’m coping with, or adapted to, a lot more now. And let’s say more well suited to it.”
“But it’s far from a car I would want in an ideal world and say ‘if I want to go and do the best lap possible and give me that car to do so’, it’s definitely not the car I have now.”
“So there are big differences, I would say, at times, sometimes more similar. But what we want from the car and how we drive it, it is quite different.”
Norris was questioned if the car had improved throughout the season to better suit him or if it had been upgraded with his Australian teammate in mind.
“I’ve had to adapt a lot more to the car… There’s not a lot the team can do for me, in terms of car, they just make it as quick as possible,” Norris added. “Like all round, it’s not like ‘Lando said this and we’re just gonna do that’.”
“So I request things and I say the direction I want to go in.”
“By no means is it anywhere near more adapted to me than to him… I feel like I’m driving a pretty similar car in terms of characteristics as the car I drove in my first year of Formula 1.”
“It’s changed in little ways, but nothing I would say now is more adapted to me than it was in my first year of racing.”