WOKING: A handout photo released on Monday by McLaren shows McLaren’s British driver Lando Norris (right) and Australian driver Daniel Ricciardo posing by the new McLaren Formula 1 car MCL35M in Woking, southwest of London. – AFP

LONDON: Lando Norris has warned his new McLaren team-mate Daniel Ricciardo he will be under pressure to deliver this season. British driver Norris will race alongside seven-time Grand Prix winner Ricciardo following the Australian’s move from Renault. Ricciardo, 31, agreed a three-year contract with McLaren as the British team aim to challenge the sport’s superpowers.

In his opening two seasons, Norris was evenly matched with team-mate Carlos Sainz. Following the Spaniard’s switch to Ferrari in place of four-time world champion Sebastian Vettel, the 21-year-old believes he can keep up with Ricciardo.

“I don’t think the arrival of Daniel will make it any harder for me,” said Norris as McLaren became the first team to launch their 2021 car on Monday. “I worked with Carlos who is an extremely good driver and there are things Carlos is going to be better at than Daniel and vice-versa. I don’t believe Daniel is a big step above anything that Carlos has achieved, and there is more pressure on him because he has been in Formula One for longer and he has to come in and perform very well.

It is harder for someone to go up against a much younger driver than it is for a younger driver going up against someone with more experience. I am in that earlier phase of my career but I still need to perform very well, and there are no excuses for me anymore.”

Ricciardo is keen to get back on track after recording just two top-three finishes at Renault following his surprise decision to quit Red Bull. “I feel like this team has a bunch of momentum and there is good stability,” he said. “When I first talked to McLaren in 2018 there were still quite a few moving parts. The results were not there on track, and they were trying to figure out their own structure. They have established that now and I am fitting into the puzzle as opposed to putting it all together.”

Norris helped McLaren to third in last season’s constructors’ championship, their best result since Lewis Hamilton left for Mercedes at the end of 2012. He became the youngest British driver to finish on the podium after taking third at the opening round in Austria last year. Now he wants to establish himself as McLaren’s number one driver, regardless of Ricciardo’s arrival. “I have more responsibility on me now than the past few years to lead the team,” Norris said. “It is a big opportunity for me to take up that lead and I will work very hard on doing that.” – AFP