2009 Formula 1 World Champion Jenson Button admits he’s surprised that Lando Norris opted to sign a long-term contract with the McLaren team.
Norris joined the Woking-based squad in 2019 and has starred for it during his stint so far, scoring six podium results to date.
Last year, it was announced that Norris had extended his deal with McLaren, tying him down to the squad until at least the end of the 2025 campaign.
During Norris’ stay at McLaren, the team has been competing in the midfield pack – although it has overcome some of the woes that plagued it during the early years of the turbo-hybrid era, it has been unable to consistently compete at the front of the field.
Button, who spent his final years in F1 with McLaren, says the time has come for Norris to be in a race-winning position in the sport.
“I was surprised when he signed a long-term deal,” Button said on Sky Sports.
“Because in this sport, you don’t know who’s at the front and you need to be in a winning car. Your talent is not enough to bring a car to the front.
“You know, you can help them develop, but you need to be in a competitive car that can win races and McLaren haven’t given them that.
“They’re doing well, but at this point in his career, he needs to be in a winning car. So see what happens over the next couple of years, I really do hope that teams like McLaren, Alpine and Aston Martin will be closer to the top three and even challenging.
“That was the whole idea with the budget cap, and also the wind tunnel time that the top teams get a lot less when they perform well in a season for the next year.
“So hopefully we’re going to start seeing benefits from that in ‘23, ‘24 I think we’ll see it even more so.”
Norris is joined at McLaren this year by highly-rated rookie Oscar Piastri, who was poached by the team from Alpine.
Button believes that both Norris and Piastri will have major pressure on their shoulders to best one another across the season.
“He [Norris] got a lot of time on his hands,” he said. “He’s still young Lando, very quick, new team-mate in [Oscar] Piastri, who again is very talented.
“[It] puts a lot of pressure on both of them, you know, with Piastri coming into Formula 1 and jumping straight in a relatively competitive car.”
Leave a Reply