Despite a successful maiden season in Formula 1, McLaren’s Lando Norris is determined to change his approach next season by getting more serious about his racing.
The happy, smiling teenager (who turned 20 in November just before the Brazilian Grand Prix) was a breath of fresh air when he arrived in the paddock in March
He went on to out-qualify his experienced team mate Carlos Sainz 11-10 over the course of his rookie campaign, although he came off distinctly second-best when it came to actual race results.
Now that he has a full year of getting to know F1’s iconic circuits under his belt, Norris intends to do significantly better in his sophomore season.
“In some ways I think I’ve been almost been too relaxed, and had too much fun,” he told Autosport magazine.
“Maybe sometimes I’ve pushed it a bit too much in terms of making it too jokey, and not focusing as much as I should.
“When it’s become more serious, I haven’t focused as much as I should do,” he suggested.
He admitted that in his view he had failed to work on all the areas of his driving that he should have done to maintain his momentum into race days.
“It’s been good and I’ve been able to have fun in my first season,” he said. “[But] I think I started to take a little bit for granted.”
For all his smiles and jokes, Norris has frequently been notably hard on himself when he’s made small errors in qualifying or lost positions during the race due to an inevitable lack of experience.
Finding the balance between serious competitiveness while keeping his love for the sport alive will be one of the biggest challenges ahead of him in his second season in F1.
“There’s a compromise,” he acknowledged. “I still just want to have fun sometimes, wear my own jumper, things like that.
“I’ve not just come in and been surrounded by too many serious things and people,” he added. “I think that’s also helped in my ability to work on several things, and to improve as a driver.”
Norris ended the year by being honoured with the fan vote for Rookie of the Year, and credited a warm working relationship with Sainz as one of the key reasons for his success.
“Carlos was a good mentor for me,” he told Motorsport.com. “I learned a lot from him.”
“There are many things that have helped me to do better, that have helped me to beat him in some cases. That is because of what I picked up, thanks to him.
“He was very good himself and was open to helping me,” Norris added. “I tried to give him the same. This was also something good between us last season.
“He was a good person to learn from.”