‘It's definitely a big opportunity’ says Norris as McLaren reveal 2022-spec MCL36
Lando Norris was one of the stars of the 2021 season. And despite a major regulations overhaul this season that could disrupt the competitive order, Norris said he was confident of taking another step in 2022, as he launched McLaren’s new MCL36 alongside team mate Daniel Ricciardo.
Norris took four podiums and a career-best sixth in the drivers’ standings in what was a coming-of-age 2021 season for the Briton. And speaking at the launch of the all-new McLaren MCL36 – built to 2022’s sweeping new technical regulations – Norris said he was looking to kick on again this season.
“It's definitely a big opportunity,” said Norris, who earlier this week signed a contract extension with McLaren that will keep him at the team until at least the end of 2025. “As a driver, personally, there's going to be a big opportunity, and to come out of the blocks strong will always be a good thing, especially when, or if, you're going to have to change your driving style and so on.
“Potentially you could probably make a bigger difference than you could in previous years, if you understand how to drive the car and so on. So definitely a big opportunity for us as drivers, rather than just the car being the opportunity for us to make the most of it.”
Asked, meanwhile, whether he felt the new regulations – which put a large onus on ‘ground effect’ to generate downforce – would suit his driving style, Norris replied: “That’s a question I don’t know just yet. We obviously have some ideas from the simulator and so on, but till we actually get on the track, and see what it’s like and so on, that’s a question that has to be answered.
“I kind of hope it suits my driving style and everything's groovy but there's definitely going to be things no matter what that I have to adapt to and change to and I think that will be the case with everyone.
“But of course, there are opportunities for me to continue last year’s progress and I'll try and make that next step.”
Asked, meanwhile, what his personal goals were for in 2022, Norris said he was targeting greater “consistency”, as he rued missing out on big points-scoring opportunities in 2021 – most notably when he came within an ace of taking his maiden Grand Prix win in Russia, having secured his maiden pole position the day before.
“The more basic thing is to increase consistency just that little bit more,” said Norris. “I think it took a very good step from two years ago to last season. And to not have these little mistakes that were very costly.
“Just a couple of things along the way that led me to not score the points when I should have done, and I think that was only maybe on two occasions or so, but a few when maybe I was eighth and I should have finished fifth or sixth, and made that bigger step to gain us more points. So consistency, just making sure I'm in Q3 when I have every opportunity to be in Q3... And just being there when it counts.
“I look forward to continuing how I did last year hopefully,” he added. “Feeling confident in myself, confident in my driving, and I feel like I can lead the team… I feel like I can be in a place where I can lean on the team if they need to help me, and I can help the team if [they need].”
Norris will hit the track in the new MCL36 at a shakedown in Barcelona, ahead of pre-season running at the track on February 23.