Stella: Norris always ‘winning material’ - just needed the right car


Andrea Stella says McLaren considered Lando Norris as “winning material” from the outset, but admits the onus was on the Woking-based outfit to supply its driver with a car worthy of his talent.

After enduring several near-misses over the years, Norris finally managed to capture his maiden Grand Prix win, a feat achieved following a flawless display in Miami last time out.

It was a milestone sweet moment for the 24-year-old, one the silenced the social media doubts that had begun to plague him.

But the victory also served as a form of redemption for the heartbreak endured by the McLaren charger at the 2021 Russian Grand Prix.

There, Norris appeared destined for his first win, having strategically stayed out on dry tyres during a late downpour. However, as the rain intensified, his gamble backfired, causing him to lose control and slip out of the lead.

The Briton subsequently carried the weight of that near-miss until his Miami triumph, but interestingly so did his team, according to Stella who remembers the lessons garnered from that painful defeat.

“We knew Lando was winning material,” Stella explained, speaking on the latest F1 Nation podcast. “It was up to us to give him the car to be able to do so and, at the first opportunity, he delivered.

“We go back to Russia – an important learning as well along the same lines. You review, you understand how you have to improve. That one was very important for the team as well.

“I think the team picked out of Russia more than what actually Lando picked out of that race, because the call should have come from the team to pit in Russia.

“It was our responsibility in that case, we learned our lesson and we move forward.”

Stella believes that the past few seasons have been a learning process for both team and driver, interspersed with many moments of self-reflection for both partners.

Over time, Norris and McLaren have combined their dedication and hard work to create a strong push for success.

“I think what Lando said about himself, ‘I’m ready to win races more than ever,’ that’s what I see,” Stella said.

“I saw the work that went in during the winter and that started already last year, reviewing some of the sessions.

“There was a qualifying session in Mexico, where we didn’t pass Q1, and we were pushing when we didn’t need to push. The car would have been quick enough – why were we pushing 100%?

“All these little elements where you have a lot to learn, they really went through very thoroughly by Lando, by the team, and [we] took all the opportunities to see how we can improve. I saw the work being done at a high level in a very committed way.

“Lando wanted to make sure if the car is good, ‘I need to be ready’. Over the winter, we kept telling Lando, ‘Wow, the car looks promising, mate!’

“I think this gave him the motivation – ‘I don’t want to be on the back foot if the car is ready’ – because he knows that Oscar [Piastri] is getting ready very, very rapidly as well.”

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