WOKING, England (AP)Lando Norris is becoming a Formula One veteran at the age of just 23 as he enters his fifth season with McLaren, but it doesn’t feel that way.
The British driver has always had more experienced teammates – first Carlos Sainz Jr., then Daniel Ricciardo. This season he will be joined by the youngest driver on the grid, 21-year-old Australian Oscar Piastri.
”A long journey, it feels like it’s gone extremely quickly,” Norris said as McLaren launched its car Monday.
”It doesn’t feel like it’s been five years, or four and a half. Another new season, new car, new teammate, so a lot of new challenges this season.”
Norris emphasized the new MCL60 car, named for the team’s 60th anniversary, builds on last year’s car rather than being a radical new design.
”Lovely to see the evolution from last year, subtle things but all to try and help it move in the right direction and help us take steps forward. So, looks good. The real question is answered in a few weeks when I get to be behind the wheel,” he said.
”To call this my first F1 car is going to be pretty special,” said Piastri, who makes his F1 debut with McLaren after an acrimonious contract dispute with Alpine last season.
In August, Alpine announced Piastri would drive for the team in 2023 only for the 2021 Formula Two champion to deny it in a social media post.
McLaren was fifth in the constructors’ championship last year with one podium finish for Norris as his then-teammate Ricciardo struggled to score more than a handful of top-10 finishes.
New team principal Andrea Stella was cautious about the team’s expectations for 2023.
”In terms of performance expectations, we remain realistic for the short term. We will see where we are in Bahrain at the test and the first race. Independently of that, we have good developments in the pipeline, so we remain optimistic for the season ahead,” he said.
More AP auto racing: https://apnews.com/hub/auto-racing and https://twitter.com/AP-Sports