Norris reveals how Piastri is making him a better driver

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Norris reveals how Piastri is making him a better driver

Lando Norris believes Oscar Piastri is making him a better Formula 1 driver after McLaren scored their first podium of the 2024 season in Melbourne.

Norris took his 14th podium in F1 last time out at the Australian Grand Prix to hold the unwanted record of most podiums without a win.

He was let through by Piastri in the middle of the race, though this likely wouldn’t have changed the result, and both drivers have enjoyed good starts to the season in terms of performance, continuing their impressive second half of 2023.

The McLaren drivers are contracted to stay with the team until at least the end of 2026, with Norris signing a new long-term deal in January.

Piastri is one point ahead of Norris in the standings going into the Japanese GP and was widely touted as one of the best rookies F1 has seen in recent years.

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“Last year was already a very tough competition. He (Piastri) has obviously improved, because it’s second year he’s a bit more comfortable,” said Norris on his McLaren team-mate.

“He looked comfortable last year but now he’s probably even more comfortable. He’s doing a strong job and he did since day one last year already, so I don’t expect anything different. He’s going to push me, I’m going to push him and I look forward to our battles together.”

Norris largely had the upper hand on Piastri last year with an impressive run of four consecutive podiums near the end of the season, but it was the Australian who won a race, albeit a Sprint, at the Qatar GP.

McLaren team principal Andrea Stella has been impressed by Piastri’s tyre management, an area which new F1 drivers generally need time to learn.

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Catch McLaren driver Oscar Piastri taking on the lie detector test

“Very, very good because in this delicate situation, with graining front and graining rear, he did very well. And the apparent pace difference in the second stint is just because he pitted so early,” said Stella after the Australian GP.

“Actually if you take the final stint, where they pit closer together, then Lando and Oscar go pretty much at the same pace.

“So compared to last year here in Australia and other places at the start of the season, we have gone a long way forward. And it’s extremely encouraging to think that this is only coming at the start of the second season. If you think how much he has to cash in more in terms of improvement, I think it looks very strong for the future from Oscar’s point of view.”

Norris learning from Piastri

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Relive how McLaren went from the back of the pack towards the front of the grid during the 2023 Formula One season

Norris and Piastri are seen as one of the best driver pairings on the grid even with highly-rated drivers at Red Bull, Ferrari and Mercedes.

Driving styles are key to performance in F1 and Norris has previously openly discussed how he likes to “U” the corner, meaning he wants to brake earlier but carry a high minimum speed through the turn.

However, last year’s McLaren was more suited to a “V” corner style, where you brake later but have less minimum speed.

This year’s car is an improvement but McLaren are still weak in the slow-speed corners, where Norris and Piastri both want more mechanical grip.

MELBOURNE GRAND PRIX CIRCUIT, AUSTRALIA - MARCH 24: Oscar Piastri, McLaren F1 Team, Andrea Stella, Team Principal, McLaren F1 Team, and Lando Norris, McLaren F1 Team, 3rd position, talk after the race during the Australian GP at Melbourne Grand Prix Circuit on Sunday March 24, 2024 in Melbourne, Australia. (Photo by Sam Bagnall / LAT Images)

Image: Lando Norris has had 14 podiums in F1 but no wins

Asked if Piastri was making him a better driver, Norris added: “He has. I said since the first test we did last year pre-season that he’s been on the pace, and as much as our comments and everything always align and are 99 per cent of the time the same, he still drives in a slightly different way.

“You always want a team-mate where they can push you, and some corners they’ll be doing a different style and it works, so then you can learn about that and use that. And sometimes my style or someone else’s style might work somewhere else. So if your team-mate is good, you’re always going to learn things from them.”

Norris vs Piastri at McLaren so far

Lando Norris Oscar Piastri
Qualifying 17 8
Best grid position 2nd 2nd
Race 19 6
Podiums 8 2
Best race finish 2nd 2nd
Races in points 19 14
Sprint poles 1 1
Sprint wins 0 1
Points 232 125
2023-2024 seasons

Norris would ‘love’ double Suzuka podium again

McLaren’s biggest strength is the high-speed corners, with Lewis Hamilton astounded on the radio by Norris’ performance in the fast turns during their battle at the Saudi Arabian GP.

That aspect of McLaren’s car has continued from last year, where McLaren were Red Bull’s closest challengers on high-speed circuits such as Qatar and Suzuka.

Norris and Piastri finished on the podium together at both events but the British driver thinks it will be difficult to repeat their result at the Japanese GP, which will take place next weekend live on Sky Sports F1, after it moved from its usual autumn date to April 5-7.

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“I think if you look back to Australia last year, we were not terrible considering the car that we had. We’ve now come back with a good car and we’ve shown what we can do but I think Australia was always going to be a good weekend for us,” said Norris.

“Suzuka proved that last year. I think they’re kind of similar. You’ve got a lot of high-speed corners. The problem is Ferrari have improved their high speed a lot and that’s where they were struggling last year. So that’s why they’ve been able to take such a good step forward.

“I think we can still have a good weekend. We can still look forward to it. And I would love to say that if we can get two cars on a podium again, it would be a lovely weekend. But I think we have two more cars this year that we’re competing against on these types of circuits, not just Max.”

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Look back at some of the most memorable moments to have taken place at the Japanese GP

Stella added: “The positive news is that the faster car was not faster by much at all. We were very close, which I think is encouraging for Japan, in which some of the characteristics that make Australia good for us, take another step further in having a higher ratio of medium and high-speed corners compared to low speed.”

Formula 1’s biggest-ever season continues with the Japanese Grand Prix, live on Sky Sports F1 from April 5-7. Stream every F1 race and more with a NOW Sports Month Membership – No contract, cancel anytime

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