Lando Norris has received high praise from Mika Hakkinen, who claims the Briton is on the same competitive level as Max Verstappen.
Norris is currently in his fifth F1 season, having joined McLaren as a rookie in 2019.
However, compared to some of his peers that he grew up racing alongside, he has not been handed front-running machinery.
Norris is tied down to McLaren until the end of 2025, but his future at McLaren has been questioned by some amid the Woking-based squad’s struggles.
Hakkinen, who won both of his F1 titles with McLaren, has heaped praise on the 23-year-old.
“[He’s] a very quick driver, he’s achieved a lot, or rather he’s shown convincing results consistently,” he told Unibet.
“He’s super-talented, no question about it. He’s on the same level as Leclerc, Verstappen and Sainz. He’s on a very high-level speed-wise.”
McLaren endured a difficult start to the 2023 campaign last weekend, with Norris pitting six times due to a pneumatic leak while team-mate Oscar Piastri retired on his debut.
The Woking-based squad admitted prior to the start of the year that it had missed development goals with the MCL60 car, leaving it to start the campaign on the back foot.
Despite that, it is targeting a top four finishing position in the Constructors’ Championship.
Hakkinen says that the potential of the current McLaren squad won’t be seen for a number of years.
“I don’t think McLaren has very high expectations this year,” he said.
“They know their development department, and their sponsors and partners are world-class technology giants. McLaren has their support but the team knows they aren’t quite there yet. The result need a couple more years.
“They are in it for the long run and have good partners. Like I said, there might be some results this year but I think the true performance will be seen in a couple of years.”
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