Brown: Norris matched Alonso, knows he can beat Russell


McLaren boss Zak Brown believes that Lando Norris is as good as Formula 1 veteran Fernando Alonso and would beat George Russell with the right car.

Big words from Brown who worked closely with double F1 world champion Alonso and thus used him as a benchmark to gauge Norris, while Russell is top of the class of the new generation who the McLaren driver will have to beat in years to come.

Speaking on ESPN, Brown reckoned: “Lando’s a franchise driver, one of those guys if we put everyone in a dirt buggy and we put all the F1 drivers in a race, he’d be at the front because he’s got that kind of natural talent. I think he is as good as anyone on the grid.

“I’ve felt that from day one when I put him against Fernando in the 24 Hours of Daytona, foreign car, foreign track. Fernando is as good as any F1 driver there’s ever been, and Lando matches him, and depending on what time of day it was, maybe he even got him a little bit, and vice versa.

“You see that natural talent. You do get some drivers who are a one-make discipline and you throw them in a unique situation and they don’t get up to speed as quickly,” said the McLaren boss.

Norris and Russell have been rivals since their karting days, the Mercedes driver got his promotion from Williams last season and duly rewarded the faith they had in him by winning Brazil’s Sao Paulo Grand Prix, in a year when the Silver Arrows were not the mighty team they once were.

In fact, Russell’s teammate, seven-time F1 World Champion, Lewis Hamilton did not win a race in 2022, ending a remarkable streak stretching back to his rookie F1 season in 2007, that has seen him win a Grand Prix in every year he has competed at the highest level.

Norris has never won a Grand Prix in the 82 F1 races he has contested, so it will hurt that  Russell beat him to that milestone; Brown explained: “Lando wants to be winning races, I’m sure he knows he can beat George and he has beaten George before…

“He’s going to be anxious people he’s raced with don’t get too many more wins before he starts getting his,” added Brown.

After demolishing teammate Daniel Ricciardo in 2022, this season Norris, despite his youth, is the McLaren team leader as they welcome highly-rated, over-hyped and unproven Oscar Piastri to Woking, which means the first order of business for Lando is to show the rookie who is boss.