Norris felt ‘perfect combo’ of rivalry/friendship with Sainz
Lando Norris believes a “perfect combination” of rivalry and friendship with Carlos Sainz as Formula 1 teammates helped drive McLaren forward in their two years together.
Norris made his F1 debut in 2019 alongside Sainz at McLaren as part of an all-new line-up at the British squad, with the pair combining to finish give the team fourth place in the constructors’ championship.
Norris and Sainz both finished on the podium through 2020 as McLaren rose to third in the teams’ standings, marking a successful final year for the duo ahead of Sainz’s move to Ferrari for 2021.
Sainz has been replaced at McLaren by Daniel Ricciardo, who is also known to get on well with Norris, setting up another partnership of two laid back, easy-going drivers.
But Norris felt it was impossible to eradicate all tension within a teammate partnership as each driver looks to beat the car across the garage.
“There’s always tension with teammates – even if someone says there isn’t, there is, always,” Norris told Motorsport.com.
“Maybe sometimes you try to hide it a little bit. Even between me and Carlos. Although a lot of the time, it always looks happy and we look like we get along, but there’s still a lot of times when we’ve hated each other!
“You don’t want to give in to your teammate, and you don’t want to look bad in front of them. The last guy you want to get beaten by is your teammate.
“Even when you put on a brave smile, sometimes inside, it digs deep, and you just really hate them because they’re quick or they’re doing things that you find difficult, or you can’t match them sometimes.”
Norris and Sainz were evenly-matched across qualifying through their two seasons together, with Norris winning the head-to-head battle 11-10 in 2019 and 9-8 in 2020.
Sainz finished ahead of Norris in the drivers’ championship in both seasons, sitting nine points clear in last year’s standings as the even points balance between its drivers allowed McLaren to beat Racing Point and Renault in the championship.
Norris explained how the will to beat each other allowed him and Sainz to help raise McLaren’s performance, making it an ideal partnership.
“I never spoke to Carlos [before he joined McLaren],” Norris said. “I didn’t know him, I didn’t know what he was like.
“We ended up being good mates away from the race track, but also fierce and tough competitors against each other, but also good teammates.
“We wanted to move the team forward, we wanted to win races and we worked well in that harmony, but we were also very competitive against each other.
“We just worked very well in both of these aspects, as teammates, but also as competitors. I think we had the perfect combination of both of them.”
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