Norris was narrowly overqualified by Ricciardo on Saturday, before overtaking the Australian from seventh to fourth in one of his strongest races to date.
Norris’ performance drew praise from McLaren team principal Andreas Seidl, who saw evidence throughout the weekend in Bahrain that Norris “has taken the next step” as a driver.
“It’s something we should expect from a young driver, especially in his early years, to take these steps because that’s how you become a top guy in this sport,” Seidl commented.
Norris’ performance on race day came after studying data from new teammate Ricciardo during the night between qualifying and the race and putting some of those lessons into practice during the race.
Drivers had to adapt to the amended technical regulations for 2021 cars, which include cuts to the ground, and Norris felt he was “punishing” himself with his old driving style.
Lando Norris, McLaren, Daniel Ricciardo, McLaren
Photo by: FIA Pool
“I feel like I have driven too much like in recent years. Especially in qualifying which had negative effects and it’s not as good,” he explained.
“I did a good job [in qualifying] but I feel like I’m punishing myself with some of the things I do with the car.
“After I understood a little more, I felt that I could already put it into practice [in the race] and I felt like I was winning in those areas that I was losing.
Norris said Ricciardo’s data was helpful as he believes Australia’s natural driving style is more suited to the updated McLaren.
“Although Daniel is new to the car, there are some differences with the car this year and the way you have to drive it,” added the Briton. “There are times when his driving style is better and more suited to that.
“The way we’ve had to drive the car over the last couple of seasons is kind of going in the right direction. It’s something I have to adjust to a bit because the car is different this way. year.”
Norris believes there is more to come as he has more races under his belt with the MCL35, but he is pleased with how his race pace has improved since his debut in 2019, including his performance in Bahrain. was a good example.
“There is room for improvement on my side, more in understanding how to drive this car,” he said.
“Not just how to learn from Daniel because I don’t think that’s the goal, but always focusing on myself in terms of race pace, an area that wasn’t very good a few years ago.
“I felt I had done a really good job, so I’m very happy with it.”