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lando-norris-may22 as good as verstappen?

Is Norris really as good as Verstappen?

lando-norris-may22 as good as verstappen?

Is Lando Norris as good as Max Verstappen? Some think so including double Formula 1 World Champion Mika Hakkinen who rates the McLaren youngster highly.

Hakkinen is not alone, as there is a sector of the F1 world that believes the 23-year-old is the next big thing and capable of taking the fight to the current F1 benchmark driver: Red Bull’s superstar Verstappen.

The 25-year-old double F1 World Champion started his quest for a third in fine style at the recent Bahrain Grand Prix with a commanding victory from pole position. Nothing was faster than the #1 car all weekend.

Norris on the other hand struggled with a woeful McLaren produced for him and his new teammate, rookie Oscar Piastri. But with what they have to ‘go to war’ with, amid the tightest midfield in the sport’s history, proved to be embarrassingly inadequate.

Despite a trying weekend in Bahrain for the once mightiest Woking outfit, Hakkinen had good things to say about Norris in a Unibet vlog: “[Lando] is a very quick driver, he’s achieved a lot, rather he’s shown convincing results consistently. Super-talented, no question about it… on the same level as Leclerc, Verstappen and Sainz. He’s on a very high-level speed-wise.”

Hakkinen: I don’t think expectations are very high at McLaren this year

Horner: We talk to Norris, he signs with McLaren the next day

One could argue that Verstappen is a step above Sainz and Leclerc at this stage of history, the Dutchman has matured immensely since his first title was bagged in 2021, even more so when he did the business so convincingly last year.

The difference between McLaren and Red Bull or Ferrari is that they have competitive cars, allowing their drivers to strut their stuff, in stark contrast, Norris has a shitbox to race this season and as he rightfully said, even Lewis Hamilton would not win races in the MCL60.

Furthermore, the news is bleak according to Hakkinen, a McLaren F1 driver from 1993 until 2001: “I don’t think expectations are very high this year at McLaren. Their sponsors and partners are world-class technology giants and McLaren has their support but the team knows they are not there yet. The results need a couple more years.

“They are in it for the long run and have good partners. As I said, there might be some results this year but I think the true performance will be seen in a couple of years,” added Hakkinen,  winner of 20 Grands Prix.

While images of a frustrated Norris were common on social media and F1 news portals, the Englishman is being publically pragmatic: “It’s part of my job really, I guess more so now than ever. But there’s no reason why they should be downbeat.

“The main thing is we should have scored points. That was our objective with a car we know is not that competitive. The team knows that and if we fix the issue, we should be fine,” ventured Norris.

Is time running out for Lando to match Max?

Verstappen and Norris get their European crowns in Italy | Federation Internationale de l'Automobile

At 23, one would think Norris has time but could also argue he does not, especially if he is measured up against 25-year-old Verstappen, who is the man of the moment with 36 victories on his CV, and counting, and should be so for some years to come.

Which prompts the reality check for Norris: Can he achieve in two years what Max has done at the age of 25?

Sadly impossible, as it would mean winning this year’s F1 title. But it is obvious that Red Bull of today is a far better F1 team than McLaren currently is. With no works engine, even Zak Brown talking to RBR Powertrains for future engine options for his team, it is clear that for Norris to fulfill the potential, he needs a Big Team to come calling.

Until that happens, the faith of Hakkinen, and many others who believe and see the genius in Norris, will remain fruitless, as without a good car we will never know if Lando is indeed as good as Max.

To be brutally honest, Norris destroyed Ricciardo much like Verstappen demolished most of his own teammates, and in Bahrain, despite the hype around teammate Piastri, it was Lando who had a mega-qualifying (considering the lemon he was driving) putting the Orange car where it had no right to be, while debutant Oscar was stranded in Q1.

That was very Max Verstappen by Norris if you ask me.