Lando Norris, Daniel Ricciardo, McLaren, Silverstone, 2021

Norris: McLaren a “lot more lively” than when I first joined

2021 F1 season

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Lando Norris says a change of culture has taken place at McLaren in the years since he joined which has been accompanied by an increase in sponsor interest.

Although Norris made his Formula 1 debut with the team in 2019, he joined their young driver programme two years earlier. McLaren underwent a leadership change soon afterwards, with Zak Brown arriving in place of Ron Dennis as CEO, and Andreas Seidl taking over as team principal.

The team has attracted a wealth of new backers since them. Several are positioned around its growing esports programme which Norris, an active simracer and Twitch streamer, is a major part of. He says this has allowed them to reach non-traditional F1 sponsors.

“I think [our] partners and sponsors, a lot of them are also from the esports side of it and computing side and not just to do with the racecar itself. A lot of our partners like getting involved because of these types of things.

“I’ve done a lot of stuff online, like with Coca-Cola and Dell playing on it and driving with them and giving that experience of driving around different tracks and driving a race car. It is very different.

“Five years ago, I [don’t] think there was more than like four logos on the whole car and now the car’s full of them. Although it’s changed a lot, I think it’s all changed for the better.”

Last year the team attracted significant investment from MSP Sports Capital. It has begun the 2021 F1 season strongly, Norris holding third in the championship after scoring in all of the first 10 races.

“We’re on a good trajectory just as a Formula 1 team and McLaren all together as a company,” he said. “So it’s cool to be just part of that.

“Part of that is then also the esports side of it. It’s another sector that’s growing massively and partners love being involved in it because it is growing so much. So it’s good for everyone. It’s just enjoyable to kind of spend time with these people, meet different people through it and so on.”

Norris said the changes in the team since he joined have been for the better.

“There’s been a lot of changes from back five, six years ago when I went for my first time going to go meet Ron,” he said.

“I think it’s now a lot more lively, a lot more enthusiastic, more motivated and things like that. It’s all changed, but for all the good reasons.”

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Author information

Hazel Southwell
Hazel is a motorsport and automotive journalist with a particular interest in hybrid systems, electrification, batteries and new fuel technologies....
Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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10 comments on “Norris: McLaren a “lot more lively” than when I first joined”

  1. Lando doesn’t get the full applause he deserves yet, the guy has been always there to score a way bigger haul of points than normaly expected for McLaren. I don’t know why some people like to reward occasional flashes of brilliance over the reliability that he has been bringing to his team. It isn’t a strangely underwhelming Ricciardo that is making him look good either. Third place in the WDC up to the tenth round against Red Bull and Mercedes one league ahead is a remarkable feat. Outside the track he’s a funny and easygoing guy that is good for Formula 1 to have in contrast with the more hard-hearted ones (nothing against the latter drivers, on the contrary). It’s interesting to see a “nice guy” (on the outside, inside he’s way fiercer than he looks) taking the fight that well, not fazed at all against the willy old foxes. Keep it on!

    1. Totally agree. He had the junior pedigree, and now he’s showing he’s the real deal. And he has a great personality.
      In 2015 I was absolutely 100% convinced that he would make F1, and I saw enough in 2019 to convince me that he is defiantly a future world champion.

  2. And they’re also doing well, like getting 50 thousandths to pole in one of the austria races, almost holding off a charging hamilton at imola, the last few races being ahead of bottas before some penalty puts him ahead again, norris has been exceptional but you can’t do this stuff without a fairly competitive car, I’m getting good impressions from both mclaren and ferrari this year.

  3. Zak Brown has done an amazing job at McLaren.

    Not too many years ago I was at the Catalunya GP and remember being laughed at by locals as I walked through Montmelo to the circuit, dutifully wearing my rocket red (i.e. orange) McLaren top.

    Back then it felt like the team was never going to lift itself from rock bottom.

    The rebuilding of McLaren has been nothing short of miraculous and is all the better for how ‘human’ the team now feels. Ron Dennis helped them achieve amazing success but the world is now a different place and 21st century McLaren are easy to like and exciting to watch, on and off the track.

    Long may their upward trajectory continue.

    1. Zak is indeed an inspiration. I hope what he has achieved so far at McLaren is just a small part of his story yet to come, although I do wonder for how long he will be able to balance his priorities between McLaren and United.

      He really does deserve to bring his United brand to F1 given what he has achieved.

    2. He’s rebuilding McLaren, for sure.

  4. To be honest, I didn’t thought Zak Brown could turn McLaren into a nice it is today. I really like his attitude and is refreshing compared to Ron Dennis. I think also that Andreas Seidl also contributes a lot to the happiness of the team.

  5. Zak has done a great job with both the F1 and IndyCar teams!

  6. Big fan of Lando and Daniel. Only thing I don’t like are how many fans are trying to cultivate some bad spirited rivalry. They seem like a perfect pair for the team and to get along.

  7. Given it is RIC in the sister car, I reckon NOR is the season’s top (overall) performer thus far, a smidge ahead of VER.

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