More people have realized what Sainz is capable of in F1 at Ferrari

Norris spent two seasons racing alongside Sainz at McLaren before the Spaniard’s move to Ferrari for 2021, where he teamed up with Charles Leclerc.

Sainz enjoyed his most successful F1 season to date last year, scoring four podiums en route to fifth in the Drivers’ Championship ahead of Norris and Leclerc sixth and seventh respectively.

Sainz’s performance prompted Ferrari to already seek talks to extend his contract beyond his current term at the end of 2022.

Norris also enjoyed a successful campaign in 2021 as he scored his first F1 pole in Russia and was on the verge of winning the race. He landed four podiums, including a second place at Monza.

Discussing his own progress in his third F1 season in 2021, McLaren driver Norris said the step he took in his second year in 2020 may have been less obvious due to Sainz’s performance. .

“I think my second year has been good,” Norris told Autosport.

“Carlos, I think, is one of the best drivers in Formula 1. It didn’t do me so well either, because he’s a really good driver, and he did a really good job – like, fair -play with him.

“I think I was followed a bit by him because he was doing an exceptional job. I think this year I took this step which would have been the same or maybe a little better than him.

Carlos Sainz Jr., Ferrari, 3rd place, lifts his trophy

Photo by: Jerry Andre / Motorsport Images

Norris attributed his own progress to “a combination of understanding everything from the last few years,” as well as an improved car that he felt more confident to drive to its limit.

Norris also cited the arrival of new teammate Daniel Ricciardo as helping him take a step forward, giving him the motivation to try and prove himself against an established Grand Prix winner.

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The British driver thought it was a similar story for Sainz when he faced Leclerc – widely touted as a future F1 champion – at Ferrari.

“I always had the motivation to want to beat Carlos,” said Norris.

“At the same time, with Daniel, I didn’t feel nervous at all when he came. A lot of people thought I had done it, or asked the question because he’s a winner of multiple races, he has podiums.

“Everyone knows what Daniel is capable of because he’s been in a car that has won races. Whereas with Carlos nobody knew as much of what he was capable of, as he was in a Toro Rosso, a Renault and a McLaren.

“More and more people are realizing what he’s really capable of and what kind of pilot he is when he takes on Charles and beats him quite often.”

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