2021. That’s a wrap! But we couldn’t sign off without getting some final thoughts from McLaren F1 drivers Lando Norris and Daniel Ricciardo. In their last McLaren.com interview of ’21, the pair reflect on highs, lows, Lando’s evolving taste in music, and more.
So, Lando, Daniel, we’ve reached the end of the 2021 Formula 1 season. If you were to give yourself a mark out of 10, what would it be and why?
Daniel Ricciardo: One, two, three, four…
McLaren.com: Steadily climbing here.
DR: Four and a half, five… six. Six? Six.
MCL: Any advance on six?
DR: No, I’m going with six.
MCL: And the reason for six?
DR: Well, it’s all about results, isn’t it? Winning the Italian Grand Prix definitely boosted me up to a six, but I wouldn’t say there were too many amazing results this year. That wasn’t through a lack of trying or effort, though. So yeah, let’s settle on six.
MCL: OK, six it is. And what are you thinking, Lando?
Lando Norris: I’d give myself a strong 8.8.
DR: Oh, are we doing it to the decimal?
MCL: That is very precise. Very F1.
LN: Eight is a bit low, but nine is a bit like, ‘Calm down.’ So, yeah, 8.8. The reason for that score? I would say it’s been my strongest season in F1.
DR: I bring out the best in people. [Grinning from ear to ear.]
LN: Er, yes… I rose to the challenge. I finished on the podium four times. I let Daniel win a race. [Laughs.] And I got my first pole position in F1. But I have made a few mistakes along the way, so 8.8.
MCL: OK, so there’s a little room for improvement next year.
You both just touched on some of your high points this year. What would you say is your proudest moment of 2021?
DR: You go first, Lando. It’s got to be drinking out of my shoe, right?
LN: I was not proud of that. I was proud of you though.
LN: I would say my proudest moment this year was pole position in Russia, my first pole in F1. There’s something great about the fact that when you qualify on pole, on that day in history, you are the fastest guy out there. That’s really cool. I hooked everything up in tricky conditions: slicks on a drying track. In a way, you could say it’s the kind of pole position that you can be even more proud of because of the track conditions. Daniel has had loads of poles though…
DR: Not loads. I’ve had three.
LN: You’ve only had three?
DR: Yeah, I haven’t that many. I think it’s three. Yeah, three.
DR: As for my proudest moment this year… that’s hard. Even if I wanted to say something other than Monza, like Austin, which was a really fun weekend and I got a top-five in the race, I just can’t. I have to go with Monza. But that’s not just because I won the race. It’s more the fact that I’m sure 99% of people would have not put me down to win a race this year, so that’s why I’m most proud of that moment: I found a way to overcome some of the lows and make the most of the opportunity when it came.
So those are your proudest moments, but what about your biggest regrets of this year?
LN: Biggest regret? That’s a tough one. I have no regrets. I like to stay in a positive frame of mind about everything. Even when things don’t go right or as you hoped, there are always positives you can take and things you can learn that make you stronger.
DR: For me, some of the low days this year weren’t for a lack of trying, so in a way, I don’t regret anything either. I don’t feel like I could have tried any harder. If I felt like I hadn’t given it my all then maybe I would have some regrets, but I don’t. So yeah, no regrets, just memories – those words were my first tattoo, actually.
Did either of you really think you’d be in a position to win a race this season?
DR: Not after the first six months. No. I say that, but I’ve also been in this sport a long time, and I know that things can happen and that things can change pretty quickly. So although I didn’t expect a win, I also wouldn’t have signed a document saying, ‘No, there’s no way I’ll win a race this year,’ because you never know.
LN: Did I think I’d be in a position to win a race this year? Honestly, no. Did I believe there was a chance? Yes. You never know, you know…
MCL: But when you know, you know, no?
LN: Exactly. [Laughs.]
Speaking of knowing things, what have you learned about each other in your first year as team-mates?
LN: I don’t think I’ve learnt much more about Daniel, actually. I think I knew him reasonably well before he joined the team. But I’d say we’ve learnt from each other and helped each other this year.
DR: I’m still trying to assist Lando in other parts of life. I’m trying to teach him the way… when it comes to music.
LN: This is true.
DR: He’s learning quite quickly, so… that’s what happens when you hang around me, you go places.
LN: You don’t always go to the correct places, but you go places.
DR: Yes! [Laughs.]
MCL: So what kind of music are we talking about here?
LN: Bangers! Absolute bangers.
DR: See, now this is where we’ve still got some work to do. Terminology is getting there but…
LN: You know, a bit of sci-fi, lo-fi.
DR: Sci-fi?! [Laughs.] As you can see, Lando is still getting movie and music genres mixed up.
LN: Sometimes I listen to thrillers.
DR: [Howls with laughter.] Stop it!
OK, last question. 2022. What’s the first thing that comes into your head?
DR: Screw covid! That’s the first thing that came into my head. [Laughs.]
LN: 2022? The first thing that comes into my head…
LN: New challenges.
DR: I think the new cars are very exciting for F1 because they should mix things up a bit. I mean, this year things were quite mixed up at times: we saw a few different winners and a lot of teams on the podium. I think next year opens the door to more of that. The main thing we all want next year is closer racing – to follow a car in front easier and have more battles.
LN: Yeah, exactly that: to put on a really good show for the fans. 2022 is going to be a good year.
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