McLaren says it is exploring ways to enhance its support for Lando Norris and help the Briton mitigate his tendency for self-criticism in the wake of a mistake out on the track.
Few would find fault in Norris’ fine performances during his 2023 F1 season. The McLaren driver claimed seven podiums during his campaign, contributing 205 points to his team’s tally of 302.
But in Abu Dhabi, where he qualified fifth after a mistake in the final corner of his second flyer deprived him of a chance of securing pole, Norris rued the missed opportunity and properly castigated himself for doing “a shit job” in the session.
Norris also called himself out following his one-lap performances in Austin and Mexico City.
The 24-year-old’s harsh criticism of himself has prompted McLaren team boss Andrea Stella to have a look at ways the team can better support its driver in the future, perhaps through an entourage or support network or by encouraging Norris to focus on consistency rather than perfection.
“It's about how you judge situations, it's about how you talk about situations, about how you interpret yourself,” commented Stella, quoted by Motorsport.com.
“This one certainly deserves some attention.
“How can we just sometimes accept that a 99.9% lap is good enough? What are you up against? Always the 100% or consistency?
“When you look into opportunities with drivers, with the athletes at this level, you do it as a group. You do it 360 degrees around the driver.
“You can see in tennis, these players, they have an entourage around them, which is to support this incredible performance to actually deliver to the best of their potential.”
McLaren’s mid-season upgrades undeniably propelled team papaya up the grid, but the changes may have also introduced a few handling quirks that may have contributed to Norris’ errors.
However, Stella is convinced that Norris is simply way too “harsh” on himself.
“Certainly, even the way he addresses his own performance I think deserves attention because he just seems very harsh on himself,” said the Italian.
“Sometimes we need to focus on the positives. There's quite a lot of positives and we need to make sure that we look into that, and we make the negatives in a way be functional to perform, not simply to punish yourself.”
There’s no disputing that Norris is up against a very talented team mate at McLaren, with Oscar Piastri giving him a run for his money in the final rounds of the season. Consequently, the pressure has increased, naturally reducing the margin for error.
“Because you have a competitive team-mate, you can see how you can go quicker in some places,” Stella explained.
“We need to make sure that we support our drivers, extract their potential, which is something that is just continuous improvement.
“You do have to use all the information, including looking at trends during qualifying, like what happens when at the point we make a mistake, under which circumstances did we do that?
“Is there something that can be improved technically, but is there something that can be improved from the human side?
“So definitely we know that when the team-mate is strong, the second element [errors] tends to be more prevalent. So, something definitely to think about.”