Norris handling ‘discomfort’ from ‘unique talent’ Piastri
By Ian Parkes
Wednesday 18th October, 2023 - 5:00am
McLaren team principal Andrea Stella is confident Lando Norris is handling the “discomfort” of going up against the “unique talent” that is Oscar Piastri in the right way.
In his rookie F1 season, Piastri has slowly found his feet, delivering his best performance of the year across the last weekend in Qatar where he won from pole position in the sprint before finishing runner-up in the grand prix.
On both occasions, Norris had to settle for third place and was left questioning himself after making errors in both qualifying on Friday evening and the sprint shootout on Saturday afternoon as he felt he could have secured pole on both occasions.
Instead, it was Piastri who took the plaudits for an exemplary weekend, seemingly placing a degree of pressure on Norris.
Stella concedes Piastri is now doing exactly what was expected of him when he joined the team, but with Norris responding in the right way.
“Lando knows that Oscar is a unique talent,” said Stella. “You don’t see these kinds of talents in Formula 1 every day.
“So he’s an absolute reference, even if he’s a rookie, and at times Lando knows that he (Piastri) will set the bar very high.
“But if you are a champion like Lando is, you will have to take that from a positive point of view because it gives you so much information to keep improving.
“There’s no champion in the world in any sport that wins everything. For a driver, it’s faster in every corner, faster every lap, faster every session.”
With a chuckle, he added: “Maybe Max (Verstappen) this year, but that’s pretty exceptional.”
Continuing on with regard to Norris, he said: “So for me, Lando sees this as a bit of discomfort.
“But it’s the discomfort you need to become the best in a way. It’s a curse and a blessing to be a champion.”
The question now is whether McLaren can maintain its astonishing run of form over the final five races of this season, and then continue to develop over the winter to potentially challenge Red Bull across the full course of next season.
Since the delivery of an upgrade at the Austrian Grand Prix, McLaren has thrust itself forward to have the second-best car on the grid.
Norris still feels the MCL60 possesses what he has described as “a knife-edge balance” he hopes will be corrected going into next season.
As to McLaren’s confidence it can maintain its upward trajectory into 2024, Stella said: “The confidence you can gain at some stage you do so by being methodical, investing in your tools, investing in your methodologies, the quality of your work, and then you gradually gain the confidence.
“When we delivered the Austria upgrade, thanks to the work that happened in the background, we had a decent level of confidence because we saw in our development tools that things were starting to correlate, especially between the wind tunnel and CFD.
“This then raises your level of confidence but until you put the car on the ground, you are always a little nervous, and there was a similar process for the Singapore upgrade.
“Now we will be developing the car for weeks and weeks in preparation for next year, and all these developments happen in your tools.
“Only once you put the car on the ground will you see whether the numbers you expect will actually materialise.
“So you gain confidence thanks to the correlations that happen in the background, in your development tools, but the real confidence is only once you put the car on the ground.
“So for this year, there won’t be many more upgrades, although we will try to solve this knife-edge balance, and most will come for next year’s car but we will have to wait until February to actually see what kind of step we have been able to make.”