• Chris Kato

Teammate Tale of the Tape - Ricciardo vs Norris at McLaren

A new engine and a new driver gives McLaren fans a lot of hope, can both drivers live up to the expectations?

McLaren will enter the 2021 season off the back of their most successful season in F1 since 2012. The momentum they generated in 2020 would be more than enough to hope for a repeat in 2021, but McLaren also have the luxury of a brand new engine supplier and a new driver to get excited about. For the first time since 2014, McLaren will be powered by Mercedes engines in what was a very successful partnership in the late 90's for the Woking team. With the departure of Carlos Sainz to Ferrari, McLaren have filled his shoes quite well with perennial Grand Prix winner Daniel Ricciardo. The 2021 driver lineup of Ricciardo and Lando Norris is one that fans cannot wait to see. I would say more so for their off-track antics but putting that aside for a minute, it is a formidable driver lineup in what is an extremely competitive mid-field. With a ten year age gap between the two, can Ricciardo and Norris gel together and bring McLaren back to their winning ways? Let's take a look at the teammate tale of the tape at McLaren for 2021.

Tale of the Tape - Ricciardo vs Norris

Coming off of his best season of Formula 1 in which he finish 9th in the drivers championship, Lando Norris' task doesn't get easier as he welcomes his new teammate Ricciardo to McLaren. In two seasons at McLaren, Norris was unable to best Carlos Sainz in the championship although he was much closer in 2020. It was a breakthrough year for Norris as he scored his first career podium, first career fastest lap, and a top four grid start all in the span of a shortened season. Entering his third year of Formula 1, Norris will have to up his game even more if he wants to keep up with his new Aussie teammate Daniel Ricciardo. Let's see how the two stack up against each other in our tale of the tape.

There is a significant difference in Grand Prix experience as Ricciardo is entering his 10th season of Formula 1 and has 150 more races under his belt than Norris. It's been a few years since Ricciardo has lifted the number one trophy in F1 so some have forgotten that Ricciardo is a proven race winner and championship contender in the right car. The Honey Badger brings seven victories to McLaren along with 31 podiums, two of which came last season in his final year for Renault. When it comes to teammate battles, the numbers are a little more even in this tale of the tape. Ricciardo has been able to out-qualify teammates in F1 62% of the time vs Norris' 53%. Ricciardo is able to out race his opponents a little over half the time at 56% while Norris is just below that mark at 45%. Now some of those numbers on Norris' side are skewed due to less Grand Prix's entered, but those are still solid numbers for the young Brit considering he was going against Sainz for two seasons. With that being said, Norris was still out-raced consistently by Sainz in two seasons while the qualifying battle was much closer. Now McLaren are in a unique position in which they are the only F1 team this season effectively building a 'new' car for 2021. The switch to a Mercedes power unit is not a seamless one and has required McLaren to make a lot of changes to accommodate their new engine. "It's driven a huge amount of change and, essentially, we've been building a new car," said McLaren production director Piers Thynne. "The number of new parts on the MCL35M is about the same as when we built the MCL35." It will be interesting to see how smooth the transition to a new power unit will be at McLaren. It is another challenge both drivers will have to face this season as the car will be quite different from 2020's. Now let's take a look at each driver individually and what they bring to McLaren.

#3 Daniel Ricciardo

Daniel Ricciardo didn't see enough progress at two years with Renault so he decided to jump ship to another mid-field team on the rise. Remember back to 2018 when McLaren were eager to sign Ricciardo when his contract was expiring but at the time, McLaren were in a much different place and Ricciardo didn't see much of a future there. Much has changed in the last three years and who knows, maybe Ricciardo should've joined McLaren in the first place! Not since Fernando Alonso left the team has McLaren had an experienced race winner in the cockpit of their car. Along with his seven race victories, Ricciardo's resume includes three pole positions and a best championship result of third place. He's a consistent top six finisher and solid qualifier, reaching Q3 129 times out of 188 attempts. After spending seven years with Renault power behind his back, Ricciardo will drive a Mercedes powered car for the first time in his career. This will be an added bonus to Ricciardo's McLaren outlook as he has suffered some horrible reliability with Renault engines in the past. Considering Mercedes' stranglehold on the turbo-hybrid era, it is safe to say this is an upgrade in both reliability and power. After failing to secure a seat in one of top teams like Ferrari and Mercedes, Ricciardo will be looking to build a championship contender at McLaren. At 31 years of age, he's certainly still got time but with modern F1 favoring the younger talent, you've got the sense that this might be Ricciardo's last chance to achieve his dreams. I'm a firm believer that Ricciardo is on the shortlist of championship quality drivers on the grid at the moment. With the right machinery under him, I think he can beat the best of any given day as he's shown in the past. Whether he'll get the chance to do that at McLaren in the future is an unknown, but he makes McLaren a far better team and I'm sure they can't wait to begin working together.

#4 Lando Norris

Often overlooked because of his joyful social media personality and likeable qualities, Lando Norris is a super competitive Grand Prix driver. Over two years at McLaren, Norris was able to out-qualify Carlos Sainz 20-18 in their head to head battle. He struggled a little more in terms of race pace as Sainz out-pointed Norris by 55 points during their partnership at McLaren. It certainly doesn't get easier for the young Brit as he will be going up against one of the best drivers on the grid right now in Daniel Ricciardo. Norris is a consistent top ten finisher who made quite the breakthrough last season scoring his first podium in the very first race. His best championship finish of ninth also came last season and he has a strong record of reaching Q'3s so far in his career. Now entering his third year of Formula 1, Norris will need to take a big leap in order to match his teammate on a consistent basis. It would be fair to assume that Ricciardo is coming in as the number one driver but Norris must get off to a strong start in order to stake his claim and show McLaren that it is in fact he who can lead this team for the future. 'Last Lap Lando' will certainly enjoy the new Mercedes power behind him and the new Scenario 7's and also being the tenured driver at McLaren, he'll have the advantage over Ricciardo in terms of steering wheel and car familiarity. We know last time Danny Ric switched teams, it took him some time to get adjusted to the new car so this is where Norris can possibly gain and advantage in their head to head this season.

How will Ricciardo & Norris Get On at McLaren in 2021?

Ever since this driver lineup got announced, it's been pretty clear that these two would get along pretty well as teammates. We've already seen them share a ton of laughs together in press conferences, social media, and in the paddock so I'm not to worried about their off-track relationship. Now in terms of the racing, I think Ricciardo and Norris will work great together. Both drivers are incredibly competitive yet fair when it comes to wheel to wheel combat. In his early days of Formula 1, we didn't see much on-track antics between Norris and his teammate Sainz which is a positive for a team like McLaren who can ill afford DNF's due to teammate crashes. With that in mind, Ricciardo and Norris can work together on this project to bring McLaren back to the top of F1. Considering the super competitive mid-field, it's in the best interest of the team to have both drivers delivering at a high level as 2021 is going to be super close in the mid-field. Of course questions surround the new MCL35M and the Mercedes engine integration but that is something that's out of the control of the two drivers. Out of all the new teammate pairings in 2021, I feel this has the potential for the most success and the least amount of headaches for their team. I'm sure we're going to get a lot of laughs out of these two during the season but when it comes to the racing, it'll be no laughing matter for their opponents when Ricciardo licks the stamp and sends it down the inside for a podium finish! Let's just hope they'll be plenty of those for McLaren in 2021.

What do you think about the head to head matchup between Daniel Ricciardo and Lando Norris for 2021? Who do you think will come out on top and what are your expectations for the McLaren team this season? Remember to leave your thoughts below and we'll try and get back to as many of you as possible! In the meantime, if you haven't checked out the first tale of the tape video, check it out in the description below as we take a look at Aston Martin. Thanks for watching and we'll see you soon for the next video on our channel!

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