McLaren is working hard to show Lando Norris his faith was well-placed when he signed a contract committing him to the team until the end of 2025, according to Andrea Stella.
Norris signed the long-term contract in early 2022 despite having not had an opportunity to see how competitive McLaren would be under new regulations. After McLaren slipped behind Alpine last year and was then not happy with its launch car for 2023, a change in structure of the technical department was overseen by new team principal Stella, who hopes to show both Norris and Oscar Piastri that progress is being made.
“Lando’s put quite a lot of trust in McLaren signing a long-term contract in a period in which we could not necessarily guarantee that this was a successful journey,” Stella told RACER. “So there’s an element of trust, there’s an element of faith. And we very strongly want to prove that this strong trust was well-placed.
“At the same time you do it for Lando, you do it for Oscar, but what I like, of everyone in this journey is that they are kind of doing that for themselves, and for themselves as McLaren team members.
“You need to have this strong inner motivation, to always think if you do it for someone else, you won’t get to the same level of commitment of going the extra mile, which is actually required now at McLaren. So we look forward to confirm to Lando that it was the right thing to do. But ultimately, we want to do it for ourselves and for McLaren.”
Alongside Norris, Stella believes Piastri has been exceeding expectations in his rookie season with the way he is quietly going about gaining experience.
“So far his performance is possibly beyond what we expected,” he said. “Like the way he has been able to generate speed, right from the start the way he’s been able to progress – which was the main target we had – lap-by-lap, session-by-session, event-by-event. This has worked extremely well.
“The way he’s also been able to cope with adversity, like in Miami, after six laps he found himself with a big issue with the brake pedal. To be honest, we thought we should retire the car, but he managed to change the way he was braking, making some adjustments to actually finish the race. We knew there wasn’t any chance to fight for points, but it was important experience, we wanted to stay in the race and the way he came out of it was exceptional.
“So all of this has happened with Oscar, and what is a very interesting feature, is he’s not really advertising himself, not really highlighting it. He keeps being very humble, which is a beautiful trait, from a personal point of view. So he lets facts and results speak for themselves.”