Lando Norris says he has experimented with different driving styles in McLaren’s simulator, wary of Daniel Ricciardo’s relative struggles in 2021.
Norris has spent his entire Formula 1 career with McLaren, gradually rising up the pecking order, and last year claimed four podiums and his maiden pole position.
That prompted McLaren to tie down Norris to a revised four-year deal on improved terms.
By contrast, while he won at Monza, new team-mate Daniel Ricciardo regularly trailed Norris as he tried to adapt to the style needed to extract the most from the MCL35M.
McLaren’s MCL36 has been designed to Formula 1’s overhauled technical regulations, with the return of ground effect, and the prospect that a different driving style may be required.
“I think there’s that for everyone, that it might suit people’s driving styles, of course, more than others,” Norris pondered at the launch of McLaren’s MCL36.
“And it could potentially be a bad one for me, but I guess that’s life right? You’ve got to deal with it, it’s something you deal with. Before F1 I had to deal with it in every category I did. I only spent one year in every series. Every year I had to adapt to something new and try and make the most of that.
“But it’s the case, and it’s been proven by champions and race winners and so on, that a Formula 1 car in particular is not an easy thing to get your head around and to really get in that zone of where you’re extracting every bit of performance inside the car, which I felt like I did more of last year.
“That’s what Daniel struggled to do. I’m sure he felt like at times he was doing good but it’s that next little step which is difficult to do, so we’ll see.
“I kind of hope it suits my driving style and everything’s groovy but there’s definitely going to be things no matter what that I have to adapt to and change to and I think that will be the case with everyone.”
Norris explained that he took time in the simulator to explore potential different styles.
“Of course that’s in the back of my head,” he said on the notion he has become specialised in McLaren’s style.
“And on the simulator, I’ve been spending a lot of time, not just driving the car but being prepared to drive in different ways and prepared to drive in different driving styles and so on because of this.
“We know our car was quite specific the last few years in how you had to drive it, how you got the performance out of it, and that showed with Daniel coming into the car.”