Lando Norris is counting down the days to the start of pre-season testing when he’ll get his hands on McLaren’s 2020 car.
Norris is on the eve of his second season in Formula 1, having completed last year an apprenticeship that impressed the paddock and the sport’s fans who voted the McLaren driver as ‘Rookie of the Year’.
A sophomore campaign means a precious year of experience under the 20-year-old’s belt, who approaches 2020 with a lot less anxiety than he felt twelve months ago.
“I’m itching to get back in the car, especially this year,” he admitted, quoted by Formula1.com.
“I was last year, but I was a lot more nervous at this point in 2019 with all the new things I had to contend with: rules, information, strategies, ways of working, everything really.
“Whereas now, I know a lot of this stuff. I feel more relaxed and not so nervous. Instead of wondering whether I’m ready for the first race, this time I know I am and that’s why I’m so excited.
There was a lot to take in for Norris in 2019, but the Briton sees the benefit of experience as invaluable.
“Formula 1 is such a complex sport,” he added. “There are so many factors which impact performance, and while you can study them, you cannot properly understand them until you’ve experienced them.
“For example, managing the tyres, knowing when to push and when not to push, and how to respond to a rapidly changing strategy.
“You’ve got to think about the long game in races and that gets easier with experience.”
For Norris, having a full year on the books also means that he was able – along with teammate Carlos Sainz – to provide input into this year’s car.
“This is the first year that I’ve had a lot of input in the car,” he said.
“The MCL34 was designed in 2018, and although I drove in a few sessions that year, I didn’t have much direct input into it.
“But, for 2020, a lot of the MCL35 has been influenced by what Carlos and I have asked for.”
Has Norris undergone any personal changes for 2020? Surprisingly, he’s cut down on one particular ingredient in his nutrition: his trademark milk habit!
“This may come as a bit of a shock, but I’ve tried to stop drinking as much milk,” he confessed.
“It was a big decision. Over the winter, I drank a lot of it! Every meal, every snack, was always with milk.
“I was getting through so many litres a day and needed to rein things in a bit. I’ve been drinking more water instead, but it’s nowhere near as good.”