• Chris Kato

Norris vs Ricciardo | Teammate Tale of the Tape - Mid-Season Update | McLaren F1

At the mid-way point in the season, how has the Ricciardo vs Norris battle shaped up at McLaren?




Welcome back to the Teammate Tale of the Tape series here on the BackMarkers F1 Show. As we've reached the halfway point of the 2021 season, we thought it would be a great time to revisit the new teammate battles and do an update on the head to head after 11 races. In today's video, we'll look at the numbers between McLaren's Lando Norris and Daniel Ricciardo. This analysis will be broken up into three parts which are; qualifying form, race results, and the driver's impact on the team as a whole. Let's dive right into the numbers between Norris and Ricciardo.



Tale of the Tape: Norris vs Ricciardo




Let's first start off by looking at both drivers together and how their results stack up against each other through 11 races.




Lando Norris has the clear upper hand in the first half of the season as he's done an outstanding job for McLaren in his third year with the team. Norris has finished 10 of 11 races in the points with his best result being third place coming in Imola, Monaco, and Austria. Lando's average qualifying position is 6th with his best quali result being a second place start in Austria. These numbers have helped him maintain third in the drivers championship as F1 headed into the summer break.


On the other side of the garage, Daniel Ricciardo has had a turbulent start to his career at McLaren. He's managed to finish 8 out of 11 races in the points with his best finish being a 5th place recently at the British Grand Prix. Ricciardo has struggled to maximize the pace of the MCL35M with his average qualifying only being 10th and his best qualifying result being a 6th place twice in Bahrain and Imola. He's got a 100% finishing record in 2021 which is positive but it has only yielded him 50 points good enough for 9th in the drivers standings. Let's now take a closer look at the numbers in the qualifying battle.




Qualifying Form - Norris vs Ricciardo




Over one lap pace, Lando Norris has held a significant advantage over Ricciardo throughout the season. As we see the qualifying battle through the first 11 races, Norris has out-qualified Ricciardo 8-3 and is on average 5 tenths quicker than his Aussie teammate. Ricciardo's most convincing qualifying performance came recently at the British Grand Prix when he was only two one thousandths of a second off Norris'. Other than that and the Spanish GP, it's been one way traffic in the Brit's favor as Ricciardo has struggled to adjust to the MCL35M. At circuits in which lap time can be gained through braking like Monaco and Baku for example, Ricciardo's qualifying struggles are more evident. The Honey Badger has expressed his struggles with corner entry and braking as the many changes he's had to face has given him a steep learning curve. McLaren's Technical Director James Key has suggested that things such as engine braking, the chassis, and the new Pirelli tyres are all contributing factors into Daniel's struggles with the MCL35M. Many have been surprised to see Ricciardo still struggling to maximize the performance of the car 11 races in but full credit goes to his teammate who's on average half a second quicker than a highly rated Ricciardo. Norris' qualifying has progressively improved as well after qualifying no better than 7th in the first four races. It culminated with him out-qualifying two Mercedes' and a Red Bull in Austria to start on the front row of the grid. One lap pace is still an area in which Norris can make bigger steps as their immediate rivals Ferrari have shown to be quite quick over one lap.




Race Form - Norris vs Ricciardo




If you're a Ricciardo fan, you would hope that although the qualifying results aren't there, he's making up for it in the races. Unfortunately that is not the case as Norris has out-raced Ricciardo 9-2 in the first half of the 2021 season. Ricciardo had two top six finishes in the first five races of the season but then he went through a rough patch in which he had poor results at tracks he normally excels at. Luck hasn't always gone his way with the engine issues in Austria and the lap one crash of Hungary, but Ricciardo has only managed to score 50 points so far this season which is good enough for 9th in the Drivers Standings. It's been a polar opposite start to the season for Lando Norris as he's been extracting the most out of his car in race scenarios this year. Norris has collected three podiums in 11 races in 2021 and finished all but one race in the points. His consistency and form has led him to third in the Driver's Championship with 113 points. Whether he can hold on to that position or not, to be ahead of a Mercedes and Red Bull in the standings at the summer break is something worthy of a lot of praise. As much as we highlight Ricciardo's adjustment to a new team, we also have to give credit to Norris as well for getting on top of the new power unit quickly. Both drivers are new to Mercedes power and the re-designed chassis so for the younger driver to be delivering the bulk of the points for the team is quite impressive.




Norris & Ricciardo's Effect on the Team




As it stands before the Belgian Grand Prix, McLaren are tied for third in the Constructor's championship with Ferrari. This battle has been back and forth all year long and it's interesting watching the dynamic between the two as Ferrari also have a new driver alongside their young superstar. From the stats we laid out in the previous two points, it's clear that Lando Norris is largely responsible for McLaren's 163 points as a team. He's assumed the number one driver spot and role of team leader and that has shown itself on and off the track. We haven't seen much of the fun off-track banter between the two that we expected and Norris seems to be super focused in on the task at hand in 2021. Although their has been a clear gap between the two, the partnership of Norris and Ricciardo has still been a strong one. Their finishes at the Emilia Romagna and British GP's are responsible for two of McLaren's biggest points hauls in the last 6 seasons. If Ricciardo can further improve his form and be on par with Norris, McLaren will be a force to be reckoned with as we move into the new era of cars in 2022. For now, their immediate goal is third in the Constructor's in what will be a close fight with Ferrari until the end of the season. They'll need Norris to maintain his consistent run of form and race pace while Ricciardo will have another 12 races to try and get himself closer to his teammate in terms of performance.





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