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McLaren: Ricciardo and Norris one of F1’s strongest driver line-ups

Daniel Herrero

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Sunday 27th December, 2020 - 9:26am

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Daniel Ricciardo

McLaren has one of the strongest driver line-ups in Formula 1 with the arrival of Daniel Ricciardo alongside Lando Norris, according to its Technical Director, James Key.

Ricciardo signed a multi-year contract with the McLaren F1 Team which sees him take the seat vacated by Carlos Sainz, who has moved to Ferrari.

That puts him at a squad which rose to third in this year’s constructors’ championship, while Sainz finished sixth in the drivers’ standings and Norris ninth.

While Ricciardo might be new to McLaren, he and Key have worked together before given the latter was also Technical Director at Scuderia Toro Rosso from mid-2012 until 2018.

“He’s an excellent driver to work with,” said the Briton of the West Australian in a McLaren Q&A.

“He will have accumulated plenty of experience and knowledge since I last worked with him, so I expect he’ll be several steps ahead of where he was back then in terms of what he’ll bring to the team.

“He arrives as a proven race winner and is someone who can go toe to toe with the very best drivers.

“Daniel is very easy to get on with, but he’s hugely determined and that has a positive effect on any team.

“He will be a great reference point for us and, together with Lando, we will have one of the strongest driver pairings in the paddock.”

Ricciardo arrives at Woking from the Renault F1 Team, which owes its recent progress to the seven-time grand prix winner, according to its Managing Director, Cyril Abiteboul.

McLaren Racing Director Andrea Stella believes that if it is to improve further, it needs to foster a similarly good relationship between Ricciardo and Norris as was the case for Sainz and Norris.

“I think James has done a great job of underlining the calibre of driver Daniel is,” said Stella.

“He’s proven that he’s one of the best out there.

“The most important thing from my point of view is that we preserve the conditions that we created to allow that high level of collaboration between Carlos and Lando.

“But it’s not just about preserving those conditions, we may have to adapt them. Daniel is not Carlos and his relationship with Lando will be different.

“It may be similar, but it will not be the same and we need to be mindful of that and adapt with a view to maintain the standards.

“After two years of racing in F1 and having been so evenly matched with Carlos, Lando has shown that he has all the qualities to become a top driver in the sport.

“We head into 2021 with a very exciting and competitive driver line-up, that’s complemented by two excellent test and development drivers in Oliver [Turvey] and Will [Stevens].”

Fernando Alonso will replace Ricciardo at what becomes the Alpine F1 Team in 2021, while Esteban Ocon continues in the Anglo-French operation’s other car.

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