Lando Norris lauded as world champion material by two-time F1 winner

Lando Norris has been the subject of special praise by a two-time F1 champion. After making his debut in 2019, the McLaren driver has five podium finishes to his name and came agonisingly close to victory in Russia last September, en route to a career-best sixth in the drivers championship.

Emerson Fittipaldi, 75, who won the world championship in 1972 and 1974, believes the Brit has the credentials to become a champion in his own right. The Brazilian told VegasInsider : “I think Lando Norris has already established himself as what I call a potential, World Champion material.

“I was with McLaren in Jeddah [Saudi Arabia], and Zak Brown [McLaren’s team principal] confirmed that they’ll continue to get better for each race. For the next four-five Grands Prix. McLaren is running strong but I’m sure they will continue to improve a lot for the Grand Prix in Imola.”

He added: “McLaren was without a doubt the most improved team at the Grand Prix in Australia. They know how to work within the new rules. In terms of mechanical grip, they improved a lot. The engine has also improved quite a lot.

“Lando Norris and Daniel Ricciardo are going to be strong again. Without a doubt. They have the potential to be on the podium in Imola.” The 22-year-old has endured an indifferent start to the ongoing campaign, struggling for pace in the opening race in Bahrain and could only manage a 15th place finish.

Normal service was resumed in Saudi Arabia as Norris crossed the line seventh, and secured his best performance of the season so far in Australia, finishing fifth. He has steadily improved with each race and after qualifying third for the Imola GP sprint race, Norris will be eyeing a spot on the front row for Sunday’s race.

“I would have liked to have put that last lap in because we didn’t do a lap where we were full power, full battery,” he told Sky Sports F1 after the session. “If I had managed to get a lap at the end which was 100 per cent battery, there was a good three, four tenths left in it.

“I’m sure Charles [Leclerc] maybe would have improved as well, but if he made a mistake and didn’t do that I think I could have got him. Honestly, it’s a very good result for us, so I’m taking it.”

In regards to what contributed to such an impressive performance, Norris added: “There are some small upgrades we have this weekend, small things, nothing which has made us go from where we were to P3, you know?” Catch the Imola GP sprint race this afternoon before tomorrow's showpiece event.

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