CAN LANDO BEAT DANNY RIC?
Lando Norris starts his third season in Formula 1 this year, and his third year with McLaren. He had two years with Carlos Sainz as his more experienced teammate, but this year he’s joined by Aussie driver and smiliest man in the paddock, Daniel Ricciardo.
Fans are looking forward to a continuation of the kinds of hi-jinks enjoyed by ‘Carlando’, with Danny Ric known to enjoy a prank and a joke, and a lot of people are speculating that the two will enjoy a similar bromance.
THIS YEAR LANDO IS THE ESTABLISHED DRIVER, WITH DANIEL NEW TO THE TEAM AND THE CAR, AND HE'D PROBABLY LIKE TO THINK THAT WILL GIVE HIM AN ADVANTAGE.
But despite the laughs both Danny and Lando are fiercely competitive, and determined to see results - Daniel after a disappointing stint at Renault, and Lando after two full years of feeling like the new guy.
This year, Lando is the established driver, with Daniel new to the team and the car, and he’d probably like to think that will give him an advantage. Both performed admirably in pre-season testing, with the new McLaren not only catching everyone’s eye with an innovative rear diffuser strategy, but also showing strong performance and reliability across the three days - particularly impressive after they had to shoe-horn in a new Mercedes power unit under their existing chassis design, as per the regulations for 2021.
Danny Ric seemed to get comfortable in the MCL35M very quickly, and outperformed Lando by nearly half a second on the overall times. Arguably he did have the advantage of being in the car for the final testing session in the afternoon of Day Three, which was when all the fastest laps were recorded. Pre-season testing is also well known to be a time for testing various car conditions, so both drivers weren’t necessarily going flat out all the time - as suggested by the fact that Kimi Raikonnen in the Alfa Romeo and George Russell in the Williams both posted faster lap times overall than either McLaren driver.
That said, it’s got to be worrying for Lando, who no doubt after achieving his first podium last year is hungry for more success. Daniel has shown raw talent and pace in all the cars he’s driven, going toe-to-toe with Max Verstappen in his Red Bull days, and clearly outperforming the very talented Estaban Ocon in his last two seasons in the Renault. The Aussie is well-versed in fighting for podiums and race wins, and he will be a difficult adversary and teammate this season.
Lando has shown a lot of consistency, and clearly has talent, but he’s yet to establish himself as a front-runner or demonstrate the raw pace that is needed in Formula 1. He does, however, bring a genuine PMA (that’s Positive Mental Attitude to you and me) to everything he does, and while he hates to lose, he’s also keen to learn and evolve from every experience. Having Daniel as a teammate might just push him to new heights, and with a car that’s looking better than last year, he might get to experience more podiums as McLaren fight to be top of the midfield and catch up with the top teams.
Will he beat Danny Ric? Maybe not, but 2021 has got to be his best chance to start looking like a true contender in the championship leaderboard.