Lando Norris has declared he is willing to be patient with McLaren when it comes to awaiting his chance to compete for success in Formula 1.
The British driver revealed that he had held talks with other teams – including Red Bull – before taking the decision to pen a five-year extension with McLaren through to the end of 2025 in February last year.
Although Norris is yet to stand on the top step in F1, he has registered a podium finish on six occasions and achieved his maiden pole position in 2021, as well as emphatically defeating the highly rated Daniel Ricciardo across two seasons together at McLaren.
While McLaren took a step back last season by only finishing fifth in the Constructors’ standings last year, Norris has suggested that a successful season for the Woking team would consist of at least reclaiming their position at the top of the midfield.
“I think from where we are now, a realistic and successful year is to still take some big steps forwards – we’re ambitious and we still want to do that,” Norris said after the launch of McLaren’s MCL60 car.
“We need to be the team that’s leading the way in the fight to the top three teams, and if we can at least end this season around that place, where we’re fighting for fourth in the Constructors’, and we’re leading the way to the top three, then I think that’s what we need to be happy with.
“It’s ambitious, we have a lot of work to do to achieve it, but I think that’s a realistic goal. I don’t think you can expect us to be on par with the Red Bull, Ferrari, Mercedes at this time, we still have a long, long way to get to that point, so we’ll see.”
McLaren CEO Zak Brown has recently admitted McLaren won’t be able to fight the top teams until 2025 at the earliest when vast renovations to bring its Woking base up to the standard of the sport’s elite are set to be completed.
Norris, however, has conceded he is prepared to be patient in his wait for the changes to arrive that could elevate McLaren back to the front again, having been aware of what he signed up for a year ago.
Asked whether he is willing to wait for those improvements or if he’ll have to seek an alternative avenue to move up the grid sooner, Norris responded: “I have the patience to wait out those next years – not even wait out, but to make the most of these next two years.
“I’m happy to do so, to a certain extent, I’m only 23, I feel like I’ve got many years still to go. I guess at times it’s tough to think as I’m a competitive guy, and I want to win, so, of course, you think: ‘What could you do to get into that position earlier?’
“But also, I’m very comfortable with where I am now,” he continued. I have good confidence in the team, If I didn’t then maybe my mindset would be different, but that confidence is important – for myself, but also [for] the team to have it.
“It’s a long way away, but we’ll see how the progress can be this season, how we can do at the end of the season when we get things in the new wind tunnel and start to get our first idea.
“I want to believe ‘24, ‘25 are where we should see some bigger change. It still feels like a while away, got a whole year to do [yet], but the beginning of that starts this year.
“I know maybe we’ve said that a bit over the last few years; last year was a very frustrating year as new rules, new regulations, was our chance to pioneer that jump forward that wasn’t to be.
“And, yeah, frustrating for my side, for the whole team to be in that position, but I think there are valid reasons for it and so on, but I definitely have not lost faith in the team that I’m part of.
“I’m very happy to continue to work with them and be part of the journey getting back to winning races and winning championships,” the British driver concluded.
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