Lando Norris and Charles Leclerc have been told to “knuckle down” and help improve McLaren and Ferrari’s dire situations by Formula 1 journalist Tom Clarkson.
Leclerc has endured a terrible start to the 2023 season, retiring in two of the first three races and registering statistically his worst opening to a season in Ferrari colours.
Despite getting off the mark for the year in Australia, Norris has suffered as a consequence of McLaren electing to switch development focus midway through the winter and resultingly also sustained an arduous time on the track.
Both drivers are tied down to their current teams, however, with Leclerc upholding a contract that has another season to run beyond this one, while Norris penned a long-term deal with McLaren through to the end of 2025 only a year ago.
Although it’s been touted that the young duo might opt to soon look elsewhere, Clarkson insists that Norris and Leclerc’s main priority should be to focus on galvanising the confidence-ridden teams around them.
“Everything about the first two races makes me feel that Ferrari are a little bit undercooked at the minute,” Clarkson said on the F1Nation podcast.
“They’re just not getting anything quite right. The car isn’t quite fast enough. Charles is already expressing a little bit of frustration over the radio as he did in Saudi.
“It just feels that they’re half a step behind Aston Martin and two steps behind Red Bull at the moment. Such is the relentless pace of Formula 1; can Ferrari make up the difference?
“I see Lando’s situation as very similar to Charles Leclerc’s at Ferrari. They’ve both been in Formula 1 for roughly the same amount of time, they both want to take the next step. Lando wants to start winning races, Charles wants to start winning World Championships.
“So what do you do if you’re Charles? What do you do if you’re Lando? I think you’ve just got to knuckle down and try and help motivate the people around you to do everything they can to improve the car,” he exclaimed.
The state of the driver market means the only top seat that could potentially become vacant for next year is at Mercedes in the shock circumstance where Lewis Hamilton doesn’t renew terms with the German manufacturer.
While the seven-time World Champion has continuously maintained he wants to stay in F1 beyond his current deal, talks between Hamilton and Mercedes chief Toto Wolff are yet to be finalised.
However, the expectancy remains that the Brit will eventually prolong his stint in the sport as he bids to claim that elusive eighth Drivers’ title before retirement beckons.
Norris and Leclerc, meanwhile, have both vocally underlined their commitment to their respective teams in recent weeks.
The McLaren representative is determined to see through a long-term project of returning the Woking-based outfit to the pinnacle of the sport and its revival bid will ramp up considerably when the team’s new wind tunnel comes online this summer.
Leclerc, on the other hand, has denied speculation he has lost any motivation after a tough beginning to his fifth campaign at Ferrari and claimed he is solely focused on aiding the Italian squad’s efforts to regain competitiveness as soon as possible.