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Is Lando Norris’ faith in McLaren misplaced?

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When Lando Norris signed a contract extension with McLaren in February 2022, eyebrows were certainly raised in the world of Formula 1, McLaren had, after all, slipped from third to fourth in the Constructors’ Championship standings in the year that preceded Norris putting pen to paper on a new deal.

Understandably, there were questions asked about the wisdom of extending his deal until 2025 given the amount of talent he had when the team seemed to be trending in the wrong direction. Those concerns grew even louder when at the end of the 2022 season, McLaren had regressed again, this time finishing in fifth position in the Constructors’ Championship having been surpassed by Alpine Renault.

Essentially, the situation had gone from looking like bad luck to an unmistakable decline in results. Remarkably, this hasn’t deterred Norris with the Belgian-British racing driver still confident that better times are around the corner despite the dip in form. So, is he right, or is his faith in his beleaguered team misplaced as the 2023 season approaches?

What do the odds say about Norris’ confident outlook?

The reality is that Norris will start his fifth season in the sport at odds of 100/1 to win the Drivers’ Championship while, astonishingly, still searching for his first race win.

As for how possible a maiden win could be in 2023, owing to McLaren’s on-track limitations, it seems a certainty that Norris will have to rely on events outside of his control to pull it off, such as a pile-up after lights out that he manages to avoid or favourable weather conditions that the team are able to use in order to steal a march on their rivals.

Put another way, even if Norris starts as a distant outsider to win in the pre-race betting markets this season, there is a chance that the in-play betting F1 race odds could list the 23-year-old as the favourite to get to the chequered flag first should a set of fortunate events play out during the race.

The fact remains that aside from a series of lucky circumstances, Norris may be resigned to another year of frustration behind the wheel as the wait for that elusive victory goes on.

getting back at it this week 🏎️ pic.twitter.com/RggzIafuaW

— Lando Norris (@LandoNorris) February 20, 2023

But as far as the bigger picture goes after 2023, to some extent, you can see why Norris would be optimistic about the future.

McLaren invests in the future

Chiefly, this is down to McLaren investing a substantial amount in a new wind tunnel and simulator with the completion of both developments scheduled for the middle of 2023. It is a move that McLaren say will help propel their drivers up the grid with improved results predicted in 2024.

In fairness, it’s not unfounded logic and there is a good chance that we will soon see a faster version of the iconic papaya orange F1 car with the team set to improve their infrastructure drastically.

What a place to call our home. 😍🏠 pic.twitter.com/IhzVK1WQpC

— McLaren (@McLarenF1) February 15, 2023

However, it won’t provide a silver bullet to all of McLaren’s current problems when you take into account that the teams above them, in particular Red Bull, Mercedes, and Ferrari, will continue to improve from a far stronger foundation than the starting point McLaren find themselves at.

In short, after years of treading water, McLaren won’t miraculously be able to make up the gap overnight as the teams ahead of them are a lot further down the line in terms of building a championship-winning car that adheres to the new regulations that were introduced in 2022.

Wasted time or time well spent?

With this being the case, the focus shifts back to Norris’ unquestionable ability and whether the driver should be showing the level of patience that he is as McLaren play catch-up. For now, Norris has no choice in doing so after committing his future to the team until 2025 but should there be little in the way of improvement from McLaren over the next 24 months, then it would be a surprise not to see Norris look for greener pastures.