Lando Norris’ 2022 season with McLaren is already miraculous. Phone leader’F1 B’ with 76 points, the young English driver was in the top 10 in ten of the 13 stages already contested and was the only one to break the dominance of Red Bull, Ferrari and Mercedes on the podium, reaching third place at Imola.
This early data may not seem very impressive, but another context makes it even bigger. Daniel Ricciardo, Lando’s experienced team-mate, is only in 12th place in F1 2022, with 19 points. The Australian is in a bad situation, it is true, but the difference between them speaks not only about Daniel’s time, but also about the form Lando’s inappropriateness.
In a McLaren that has undoubtedly fallen behind in the order of power and the new rules, that is, lost contact with Ferrari, has been away from Red Bull and Mercedes for its entire life and has even seen Alpine pass it with clean performance, Norris keeps the Woking team in the fight G4 of the World Builders Cup. And it is difficult to understand how.
If Ricciardo is very bad and it is almost a general opinion that Fernando Alonso if Esteban Ocon has had such good seasons, how is McLaren so close to Alpine? Norris, simply. With a small car and in front of two opponents who are going through a good phase, the Englishman shows up and adds everything that is necessary to keep the orange team in the race. So far, it’s working.
Norris’ starting positions bode well for McLaren’s balancing act in 2022. Always a strong qualifier, the youngster has already lost Q3 in five races so far and has had to do some recovery, strategy and other things. Still, he was in the first three rows in six races, showing that he will always take advantage of the opportunities that arise and the times when the team is more competitive.
The reality is that a fight with Alpine seems unlikely, unless McLaren brings a major update for the rest of the championship, which doesn’t seem likely. Therefore, Lando can take a closer look at himself and even dream of seventh place in the Drivers’ Championship, which will already be a great achievement for 2022.
“I’m happy because we did as much as we could today with the cars that came in front of us. Seventh was what we could do with what we had and we were in front of the direct rivals”, said Norris after the Hungarian GP, but it seems as a weekly report of the British and McLaren for the year.
Only, looking ahead, the seventh is a little further than Norris and McLaren themselves wish. The team shows this with the idea of exchanging Ricciardo for the talented young Oscar Piastri, but Lando has also made it clear in several statements that he wants to be world champion, that he wants to win and frequent podiums. It is still far from it.
“I’m happy because my lap in Q3 was really good. The kind of lap that makes you feel like you should be on pole, fighting to win,” said Lando after a good lap in France.
Norris is the current and future McLaren, not long ago he renewed his contract until 2025 in one of the longest commitments on the grid, but as the famous saying goes: deals have to be broken. And this is one that has a lot of potential to do that.
“The only driver I see with the same talent as Max, and in the same league, is Lando Norris, but he doesn’t have the best equipment at the moment,” Helmut Marko, Red Bull consultant and youth talent expert, told. German publication Auto Motor und Sport.
Norris is young, only 22 years old, very fast, talented, aggressive and has the potential to become a world champion. For 2022, McLaren can even calm him down by fighting Alpine, but soon the boy will want bigger things. That’s why Zak Brown, Andreas Seidl and company need to work hard and offer something more to their great gems. Or McLaren’s future will be another team’s future.
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