Lando Norris is confident he can take on the Mercedes and Red Bulls between now and the end of the season – but does not expect to finish on the podium at the British Grand Prix this weekend. McLaren driver Norris meanwhile insists it was an honour to be complimented by Lewis Hamilton midway through the previous race in Austria.
Norris kept Hamilton frustrated for 15 laps around the Red Bull Ring during the Styrian Grand Prix but eventually the Mercedes driver got past the young Brit.
After he finally overtook the McLaren, seven-time world champion Hamilton said on his team radio: “Such a great driver, Lando.”
Norris went on to finish ahead of Hamilton for his fourth career podium having qualified for the race in second which saw him start on the front row for the first time ever.
And the 21-year-old told Sky Sports F1 after the race after being played back Hamilton’s message: “Love you Lewis. It’s cool. To have that kind of respect, for him to say that, it does mean a lot.”
Opening up on the comment further, the former F3 champion reflected ahead of Formula One’s return to Silverstone this weekend that it was unexpected to receive such praise from his compatriot.
Norris also added that the comment means more coming from Hamilton, with only Ferrari icon Michael Schumacher having won as many driver’s titles as the 36-year-old in the sport’s entire history.
He declared: “It was cool hearing it from Lewis. More so than from any other driver in F1. It was in the middle of the race which I wouldn’t ever do. And it was a bit odd because you don’t expect to hear it.
“But it means even more that he said it after he had gone past and I was racing against him, rather than him dropping back because of any problems.
“So it was weird – but cool at the same time because it was the first time I’d ever raced against Lewis for more than one corner.
“It’s a different feeling because you know he’s the best. And he’s the best for a reason. He’s good at attacking and defending but I feel like I was capable of holding him off for 20 laps last week.”
Norris is confident he can go wheel to wheel with the likes of Hamilton in the Mercedes and championship leader Max Verstappen in the Red Bull here on out.
He added: “Now I know that if I’m in the same position next time, I’m able to do it.
Norris does not want to downplay McLaren’s chances at his home race but says they are “still a way away” from consistently achieving podiums and beaten Mercedes and Red Bull to race wins.
“People are now expecting a lot,” he continued. “More so because of Austria and finishing third. Now people are thinking we’re going to finish on the podium and fight Mercedes again – which I have my doubts about.
“I think we can do well. We don’t have to play it down too much. But while we’re closer than we have ever been, we are still a way away from it.
“There are examples from last season when Pierre [Gasly] won and you can get a bit lucky. You can suddenly be in that position because others have crashed or had failures.
“That needs to happen for us to win a race, we can’t win it outright. But those things can happen. It’s understandable that expectations are high – they can be high – but not podium high.”
This post originally posted here Daily Express :: Sport