Lando Norris feels Oscar Piastri is pushing him “a little bit more” than Daniel Ricciardo managed as McLaren team-mates; McLaren boss Zak Brown believes Piastri is a world champion in waiting; Norris reflects on now being the veteran driver for McLaren
Last Updated: 19/05/23 12:23pm
Lando Norris says “very fast” rookie team-mate Oscar Piastri is pushing him more at McLaren than Daniel Ricciardo did.
Ricciardo had a difficult two years at McLaren – his 2021 race win at Monza being the only time he finished on the podium – as Norris comfortably out-performed the Australian finishing 45 points and 85 points ahead respectively in the 2021 and 2022 drivers’ championship.
McLaren released Ricciardo from his contract a year early at the end of the 2022 season with former Alpine reserve driver and 2021 Formula 2 champion Piastri replacing him.
So far this season Piastri has been able to keep close to Norris on race days with the two McLarens being two places apart in each grand prix since the Australian’s season-opening retirement.
And while Norris has out-qualified his new team-mate 4-1 in the opening five rounds, the average margin between the pair is just 0.067s.
Speaking in Miami, Norris said of his new team-mate: “He’s a lovely guy, down to earth, a normal guy, a hard worker. So it’s good fun. Different, I guess, to Daniel, I feel like a bit of a contrast of Australian, but still good fun.
“He’s very fast at the same time, so he’s probably been pushing me a little bit more than in the past couple years.”
Brown: Piastri a future world champion
McLaren boss Zak Brown has also been impressed by Piastri’s start with the team, especially with his performance in Azerbaijan while battling illness.
And the American believes the 22-year-old is an F1 world champion in waiting.
“Oscar has been impressive since we’ve had him in the car. He’s very mature. He’s very focused and he’s very technical. So the combination of Lando and Oscar, I couldn’t think of a better combination of drivers,” Brown said.
“Oscar has done a fantastic job and he’s trading lap times with Lando now and that’s what you want.
“He’s not really made certainly not any big mistakes. Typical exploring the limits so the odd lock of a wheel here and there but yeah, he’s not been to all these races so early indications are we’ve got a future world champion on our hands.
“We just have to work to give him a faster car now.”
Aged 23, Norris is now the senior driver at McLaren for the first time in his F1 career but the Briton does not feel a change of dynamic with the team nor team-mate Piastri.
“How I worked last year and how I worked with Daniel, it’s not too different, it’s not like too many things change,” he said.
“They lean on me maybe a bit more for the knowledge of how we were in previous years to look at the development from last year to this year and things like that.
“Apart from that, you both give your sides of the feelings and the story of what’s going on with the car and what you want from the car, which aligns very well.
“I wouldn’t say we have the same driving style, but our comments and complaints are generally always the same. So I think that’s a good thing.”
‘Miami GP reality check for McLaren’
McLaren have made an underwhelming start to the 2023 season with the MCL60 lacking performance after development targets were missed over the winter.
The team introduced a big upgrade package at the Azerbaijan GP and had seen instant progress as both Norris and Piastri made the final segment of qualifying before securing a P9 and P11 finish.
However, McLaren found themselves languishing at the rear end of the field again in Miami as both drivers exited qualifying in Q1.
Attempts to progress on the Sunday were hindered by Norris being shunted from behind by AlphaTauri’s Nyck de Vries, causing damage the team estimated worth two to three tenths per lap, while Piastri was managing a brake issue.
Norris would come home 17th and Piastri 19th and team principal Andrea Stella conceded the poor result had given McLaren a reality check.
“Our main takeaway from Miami is that we were not quick enough this weekend,” Stella said.
“After scoring points in Baku, this weekend serves as a reality check on how much work we have ahead of us.
“The plan doesn’t change: we have good developments coming, we keep our heads down, regroup and go again.”
Sky Sports F1’s live Monaco GP schedule
Thursday May 25
11.25am: F3 Practice
12.55pm: F2 Practice
2pm: Drivers’ Press Conference
Friday May 26
10.05am: F3 Qualifying
12pm: Monaco GP Practice One (session starts 12.30pm)
2.05pm: F2 Qualifying
3.45pm: Monaco GP Practice Two (session starts 4pm)
5.30pm: The F1 Show: Monaco
Saturday May 27
9.55am: F3 Sprint
11.15am: Monaco GP Practice Three (session starts 11.30am)
1.30pm: F2 Sprint
2:30pm: Monaco GP Qualifying build-up
3pm: Monaco GP Qualifying
4.45pm: Ted’s Qualifying Notebook
Sunday May 28
7.15am: F3 Feature Race
8.45am: F2 Feature Race
12.30pm: Grand Prix Sunday Monaco GP build-up
2pm: THE MONACO GRAND PRIX
4pm: Chequered Flag Monaco GP reaction
5pm: Ted’s Notebook
5.30pm: The 107th Indy 500
Formula 1 now heads to the streets of Monaco for the sixth Grand Prix of the 2023 season – watch all the action on Sky Sports F1 from May 26-28. Get Sky Sports