McLaren CEO Zak Brown says that the team’s 2021 driver line-up of Daniel Ricciardo and Lando Norris will be the most exciting pairing to be found on the Formula 1 grid next season.
The team has finally secured the services of Ricciardo after missing out to Renault on recruiting him at the end of 2018. Known for his exuberant nature both on and off the track, the Australian will certainly bring new energy to Woking.
“Daniel’s a driver that we wanted a couple of years ago – we’ve been on record that we’re Daniel Ricciardo fans,” Brown told the F1 Nation podcast produced by the official Formula1.com website.
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“He obviously chose to go to Renault last time around, but we got our man this time. He’s a seven-time Grand Prix winner,” he said. “I think he’s capable of winning the world championship in the right car immediately.
“I don’t think we’ll give him a championship car, being realistic, in ’21,” Brown admitted. “But hopefully we’ll give him something he can demonstrate his talent in.
“He’s very exciting on the track, he’s very exciting off the track and I think the combination of Daniel and Lando, I can’t think of a more exciting combination of drivers.
“I like where they’re at in their careers and their age, so I think it’s going to be very exciting.”
Norris has already impressed his bosses at McLaren, pipping current team mate Carlos Sainz in qualifying in his maiden season even if through he was still working to get on top of his race craft in the Grands Prix.
Already well known for bringing an engaging, youthful energy to the paddock, Norris is seen as one of F1’s bright young stars of the future and a good match in term of temperament to Ricciardo.
The 20-year-old from Bristol has been a star of Esports during the coronavirus shutdown of real-world sports, but he can’t wait to get back on track next week for the first proper GP of 2020.
“It’s going to be different, tough for the mechanics and engineers, and physically and mentally doing so many weekends close together,” he said.
“But it’s also good fun to be able to do one weekend and look forward straight away to the second weekend. It’s cool to be able to get so many opportunities so quickly in a row.
“I’ve missed driving a real car and pushing it to the limit. It’s been the longest break I’ve ever had since I started racing at seven, so it does feel weird!”
And having survived his daunting rookie season in F1, Norris is keen to put all those new lessons learned to good use in 2020 – and against Ricciardo next year.
“I love racing in F1,” he said. “I just didn’t enjoy it nearly as much as normal last year, because of all the nerves. Now they are gone!”
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