Norris "shocked" by Sainz' decision to leave McLaren

Lando Norris (GBR), McLaren F1 Team and Carlos Sainz Jr (ESP), McLaren F1 Team
© XPB 

Lando Norris has admitted he had been very surprised to learn that his team mate Carlos Sainz was leaving McLaren at the end of 2020.

Sainz has been signed up to race for Ferrari next season, after the Italian team decided not to extend Sebastian Vettel's contract at Maranello. Norris admitted that both developments had caught him by surprise.

"It was a bit of a shock, especially because no one really expected Seb to do what he did and not to sign with Ferrari again," Norris told this week.

"I think as soon as Seb didn't sign, then you knew something was going to happen," he continued. "Everyone seemed quite firmly in place with their teams because no one was really expecting it.

"Something of a surprise was going to happen, and obviously Carlos went for it and got the seat. Fair play to him, I'm happy for him."

Once the ball had started rolling, Norris wasn't caught out by the next step in the process, which entailed McLaren signing Daniel Ricciardo to take over from Sainz next year.

"I don't think the Ricciardo thing was as much of a surprise," agreed Norris. "Obviously I knew that McLaren wanted him back before the 2019 season, so I knew he was on the radar."

Instead of heading to Woking, Ricciardo opted to move from Red Bull to Renault last year - a decision that Norris felt the Australian had subsequently come to regret.

Lando Norris (GBR) McLaren and Daniel Ricciardo (AUS) Renault F1 Team in the FIA Press Conference.

"After McLaren did better than Renault last year, maybe it would have changed his mind," Norris suggested.

Although he is sorry to see Sainz leave McLaren, Norris that he expected Ricciardo's race-winning pedigree would be a boost to the team next year.

"He's got the experience of winning races," Norris explained. "That's something that Carlos didn't, although Carlos is an extremely good driver.

"Daniel's obviously just got that bit more experience with working with those top teams and knowing what's exactly needed to win races.

"His mentality of that side of things is something that's going to be different from what Carlos had," he added. "He can also bring a lot to the team and obviously help the team improve as well."

Having made his own F1 debut in 2019 and with his seat confirmed for 2021, Norris feels this mixture of personal stability and team change was the perfect formula for him in the sport.

"Staying [at McLaren] and working with a different team mate is the first time I have been in this situation," he pointed out. "I don't really know what to expect, I think it's still relatively new for me.

"He's got the experience of working with a race-winning team," Norris said. "He knows what's needed from them.

"Learning from him on that side of things I think is the most valuable part," he added. "I guess we'll find out next year."

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