Lando Norris says it is unrealistic to think he can beat Carlos Sainz with regularity in 2019 given the difference in experience between the two McLaren drivers.
Sainz joins McLaren with five years of Formula 1 experience at Toro Rosso and Renault, while Norris is going into his debut season at the age of 19. While Norris has been highly rated by McLaren for some time and wants to get the better of the internal battle, he says the Spaniard represents a different challenge in his career to date.
“The goal is always to beat your teammate,” Norris said at the launch of the OnePlus 6T McLaren Edition handset, where the team’s 2019 line-up appeared together for the first time. “Every year when I have gone into something new, I have had a teammate that has done a maximum of one year in that discipline, whereas Carlos is into his fifth year in Formula 1. So, it is going to be a big difference.
“Every time I have said we will struggle at the beginning of the season — I said that in F2 and F3 — it has been the complete opposite. I said we would start slow, and we have been much better than that — the complete reverse, starting amazing but going downhill.
“I don’t know what to expect next year. Some tracks I am sure he will beat me at because there are some I haven’t been to before — Singapore, Melbourne, Montreal — but then you go to Monaco or other difficult tracks where it is not always easy to be super-quick in an F1 car straight away. Of course, I would like to beat him, that is my aim and my goal, but I will be able to give you a better answer after Barcelona.
“It is definitely possible but I don’t know what to expect. I will do the best job I can and as much preparation as I can. My aim is to ideally beat him at every race and in every qualifying session but that is an unrealistic goal to set at the moment.”
Norris says he and Sainz have been getting on well together since starting work on 2019 in earnest, and the F2 runner-up admits he will look to tap into his teammate’s knowledge during next season.
“It is always different having a new teammate, but our relationship, or ‘bromance’ as he says, is improving which is a good thing. I have only done two or three days with him, which isn’t a lot. It is a work in progress.
“I don’t think I need to show him anything but if there is anything I can learn from him, which there is — maybe not so much away from the track as I am not going to ask him how to drive an F1 car, but in days like Abu Dhabi, or the pre-season test. I want to get on with my things and if I can learn anything from him that is a bonus.”