In his fifth season in Formula 1, Lando Norris says he is finally starting to get to know the person who inspired him to become a driver.
Speaking ahead of last weekend’s race, where the pair would fight over second place, Norris described how his relationship with Lewis Hamilton has been “growing” in recent months.
“Over the last couple of months we’ve been chatting a bit more and getting to know each other a bit more,” he told media including RaceFans. “I still have so much respect for him and what he’s been able to achieve in F1.
“I’m not always the guy who asks a lot of questions to these people to get to know what they’re like and know what they think. I would say I do it in a more subtle way. I just try to understand how they think, and their thought processes, and just kind of understand what makes them them, what makes them special.
“I’m not always the most proactive in going forward and asking, picking people’s brains and stuff like that. Which I guess is maybe a better way of doing it, but it’s just not who I am at the end of the day. So I’m just happy to spend time with these people. When I say people, I mean people who are the top of whatever sport they’re in. People that I have a huge amount of respect for.”
Hamilton was a McLaren driver in the six seasons before he joined Mercedes in 2013. Like Norris he was one of McLaren’s junior drivers prior to debuting in F1 with the team.
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Being far apart in the pit lane has restricted how much interaction the pair can have on race weekends and Norris says he was not proactive in establishing a friendship with Hamilton in his first years in F1.
“It’s difficult when you’re in different teams. I’m not the biggest talker either, so it’s not like I chat to anyone really that match,” said Norris. “Probably only the team mates that I’ve had, and my current team mates. Those are the guys I speak to the most on the whole grid.
“But [Hamilton] has been very inspiring. He’s the guy that is part of the reason I’m a F1 driver today. Or the reason that I wanted to become a F1 driver. So weird thinking right now I’m racing against him.”
Norris said it’s clear Hamilton still has affection for his old team McLaren. “He still has a lot of respect for McLaren and I think he still has a lot of love for McLaren.
“I think he wants us to do well, which is still a nice thing because it’s where he started his career. I feel like wherever you start your career, you kind of owe them something in a way. And McLaren gave me an opportunity, so I’ll do something for them.
“Like I said, [the relationship] is growing, it’s good, getting to know each other more, which is a cool thing.”
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