McLaren F1 car pictured from the left side taking the corner with the runoff pictured above the car, captured from the far side of the track

McLaren: An exciting team with a lot still to learn

McLaren are a team looking to build consistent performances around their exciting, fledgling driving duo of Oscar Piastri and Britain’s Lando Norris.

The 22-year-old Australian Piastri has taken everything in his stride, from dealing with the drama of a contract dispute when joining McLaren at the start of 2023 to the constant spotlight thrust upon F1 drivers in contrast to his formative years coming through the Formula racing series.

He gained back-to-back podiums in Japan and Qatar on his way to a ninth-placed finish in the drivers’ standings which made McLaren’s decision to snatch him from Alpine look like a genius move.

He has huge amounts of potential and has created excitement among fans and McLaren leaders, so much so that the Australian signed a new multi-year contract extension just 15 races into his rookie season.

But despite this backing and development opportunities, McLaren’s prodigy Norris is still the guy where the team’s investment feels stronger.

Similarly to his teammate, it didn’t take the Brit long to announce himself on the grid, and since his debut in 2019 he has continued his exciting trajectory.

For McLaren Norris is more than just a driver – he has become the face of the reinvigorated team.

His online persona makes him one of the most recognisable motorsport athletes in the world, and his ability to bring his personality to the sport makes him one of the most supported. 

CEO Zak Brown probably cannot believe how lucky his team has gotten.

Especially when the car has often not been able to match the ability of the two drivers that they have – one notable exception a double podium success in Suzuka last September.

Norris dealt with the car’s flaws and managed to work miracles on occasions in 2022, something that Daniel Ricciardo couldn’t, which is why he was ditched by the orange squad.

McLaren’s rise may have been stunted over the past three seasons if it wasn’t for Norris dragging the team out of difficult situations.

Now the team have someone who is just as exciting as Norris, and the pair have the talent and the character to continue to grow the Surrey-based F1 constructor.

The new season has begun with Norris and then Piastri showing strong performances in Bahrain and Saudi but without a podium finish, Norris is still hoping for improvements on his car.

He said: “I’m feeling good, the car has definitely felt [like] an improvement in some areas, and in other areas still plenty to improve.

“[There is] still a big gap to some of the guys ahead.”

But, after a hopeful 2023 season, McLaren will be looking to build on that as the pressure on Norris to hold the team up loosens as Piastri continues to show his talents.

It is difficult to see anyone put up a challenge against Red Bull and Ferrari this year, but if McLaren are able to finish as the best of the rest and close the gap between them and the transitioning Mercedes, the team will feel like there has been positive progress.

Featured image credit: jmiguel rodriguez on Flickr, (CC BY-NC 2.0, non-commercial)

Related Articles