Lando Norris: McLaren team principal Andrea Stella defends driver over ‘champion’ style of radio communication


Lando Norris admitted he made himself “look like an idiot” at the Dutch GP as McLaren were unable to continue their good form from before the summer break at Zandvoort and Monza; watch all sessions from the Singapore GP live on Sky Sports F1 from September 15-17

Last Updated: 04/09/23 5:31pm

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Lando Norris had to go off track to avoid an Alfa Romeo in front of him during P3 at Monza while Oscar Piastri ran off into the gravel at turn five

Lando Norris had to go off track to avoid an Alfa Romeo in front of him during P3 at Monza while Oscar Piastri ran off into the gravel at turn five

McLaren team principal Andrea Stella has defended the way Lando Norris communicates with colleagues over radio and insists holding people accountable is “what champions do”.

Norris reflected that he had made himself “look like an idiot” during an expletive-filled series of messages to his race engineer after the team made a poor strategic decision during the opening stages of the Dutch Grand Prix at the end of August.

McLaren have pulled off a remarkable mid-season turnaround to jump from the rear end of the grid to competing for podiums, but Stella accepts the team must become more operationally efficient to compete with the sport’s top teams.

“At the time Lando made the comment that I understand was broadcast, he was obviously frustrated,” Stella said. “He was frustrated because he realised that we were missing an opportunity by staying out one lap too much, and this is because the pit wall misread the situation.

“So Lando was addressing it, this is what champions do. We like this character, we want to be heavily challenged by the driver, and we can be heavily challenged because our culture is strong.

“We can bear with that, you know. We’d rather have this kind of challenge rather than a passive driver that just takes everything and doesn’t contribute to the development of the team.

Sergio Perez took advantage of an early first lap pitstop to take the lead in a rain-affected Dutch GP

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Sergio Perez took advantage of an early first lap pitstop to take the lead in a rain-affected Dutch GP

Sergio Perez took advantage of an early first lap pitstop to take the lead in a rain-affected Dutch GP

“So for us this episode is not a problem at all.

“I think we all also should be careful in extracting a single comment out of context and being over-judgmental about it.

“Actually, the review after Zandvoort has been very constructive and I’m very pleased with, again, reinforcing the culture that we saw in the team and the drivers.”

Ted Kravitz was in the paddock as he reviewed all the biggest stories from the 2023 Italian Grand Prix

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Ted Kravitz was in the paddock as he reviewed all the biggest stories from the 2023 Italian Grand Prix

Ted Kravitz was in the paddock as he reviewed all the biggest stories from the 2023 Italian Grand Prix

‘Quality Norris dealt with situation immediately’

Norris, who is in his fifth season with the team at the age of just 23, has become the Woking squad’s de facto leader thanks to his consistently elite level of performance.

Before McLaren’s mid-season resurgence, Norris had been heavily linked with a move away from the team despite his contract running until the end of 2025.

Asked if there was any risk that Norris’ direct style of communication could demotivate his McLaren colleagues, Stella insisted that the driver’s behaviour away from the heat of competition ensures there is no issue.

“I talked about culture before and this means that you have awareness of what racing is, you have awareness of how you should take drivers’ comments, and just make use of it, as long as they are constructive, and just dismiss all the rest,” Stella said.

“We are very aware of that and Lando himself, he is aware that he came across as tough to the team but then he dealt with it immediately after the race, just with the quality of the person and the driver that we all know.

“So, for the team, the matter is closed and overall, for the team, we have grown. So we have no problem at all with that.

Highlights of the Italian Grand Prix from Monza

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Highlights of the Italian Grand Prix from Monza

Highlights of the Italian Grand Prix from Monza

“In terms of how Lando perceives himself, I’m sure he will make some adaptations to his tone and pitch and so, potentially, in some time we will hear Lando speaking in a slightly different way, such that he comes across in a way that is more close to what he expects of himself.

“But for us, we are happy. And we just have to make sure we support him as well as he deserves.”

Next up for the F1 circus are the stunning streets of Singapore under the lights. All sessions from the Singapore GP will be live on Sky Sports F1 from September 15-17. Stream F1 on Sky Sports with NOW for just £26 a month for 12 months. Cancel anytime





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