Lando Norris has enjoyed teasing his McLaren team mate Carlos Sainz about how the Ferrari-bound Spaniard could be joining a slower team next season, but the Briton is also serious.
Norris believes McLaren have a real chance of finishing ahead of Ferrari in the Formula 1 constructors’ championship this season.
If they do, the 20-year-old Briton has no doubt about how much it would mean for morale.
McLaren are third overall after three races while Ferrari, last year’s runners-up, are fifth.
“We have an opportunity to beat Ferrari. We have an opportunity to fight them throughout the season,” Norris told reporters ahead of Sunday’s British Grand Prix at Silverstone.
“I think it would mean a lot to us as a team to take the next step and beat a team that’s been front-running for a few years, for many years, to show the progress we have made.
“It would give us a bit more of that drive to continue on and beat them into the future.”
McLaren are the sport’s second most successful team in terms of wins and titles after Ferrari but have not won a race since 2012.
They are back on the up, however, with Norris fourth overall after three races and taking his first F1 podium in Austria this month.
“We still have our upgrade to come. Ferrari seem to be in a difficult position at the moment with what they are trying to do and achieve,” said Norris.
“They had their big upgrades, or a lot of them, for Budapest so it is looking more hopeful than we were expecting because they are performing nowhere near what we are used to.”
Sainz is moving to Ferrari in 2021 to replace four-times world champion Sebastian Vettel, adding spice to the current track battle.
“There have been jokes made, but nothing which is rubbing it in. I know how karma works and how easily things can go the opposite way,” said Norris of the banter between him and Sainz.
“I think we’re going to go to some races this season where Ferrari will beat us quite easily and Carlos will be the one saying ‘Look who’s laughing now’.
“I know that Formula 1 can change and they will probably do a very good job to return back to their normal ways of being very competitive.”