Is Norris matching his potential or overachieving in the McLaren?

Every Formula 1 driver has contributed to a spectacular season so far in 2021, but there is one driver whose name keeps topping the headlines for all the right reasons.

Lando Norris has been radiating success all season and now sits comfortably in the third spot of the driver’s championships behind the two front runners, Lewis Hamilton, and Max Verstappen.

In just his third season of Formula 1, the 21-year-old Brit has racked up a massive 113 points over 10 races. That is only 33 less than his points gained in the previous two seasons combined. Not only has he run away with the points this season, but Norris has also gained 3 out of the 4 podiums of his F1 career.

Norris’ success started way back in the second race of the season when he took third place at the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix. This came as a shock to some spectators, but not as much as when his seemingly lucky streak did not run out.

With still 11 races to go, some suggest that Norris is overstepping his potential but what makes this suggestion valid?

Last season Norris placed ninth in the drivers’ standings with a total of 97 points. Baring In mind the season was cut short due to COVID-19 and being only his second season in Formula 1, to place in the top 10 is a pretty good result.

Norris’ performance last year showed a lot of consistency as out of the 17 races he only finished out of the top 10 three times.

Following on from 2020, it seems consistency is key for Norris as this year the same pattern can be observed. Of the ten races that have gone ahead so far this season, the Bristol-born racer placed fifth a total of 4 times and has not placed anywhere below eighth.

So, with Norris showing ample consistency to account for his tremendous performance, it is only fair to compare it to his teammate, Daniel Ricciardo.

With both drivers having the same car you would expect similar performance from the two, that is of course if people are putting Norris’ success down to overachievement, right?

Wrong. Ricciardo is currently sitting eighth in the Drivers’ standings, 5 places down from Norris, with only 50 points. His highest finishing position is fifth which he has achieved once at Silverstone, and he is yet to place above Norris in a race this season.

Some may argue that Norris has raced in this car for three years longer than Ricciardo which is giving him the advantage out on track. However, the counterargument to that is that Ricciardo’s 11 years of racing in 5 different Formula 1 cars should be enough experience to match, if not excel the performance of Norris. So really this would just suggest that Norris appears to be exceedingly impressive without the extensive experience that some other drivers have under their belt.

Another argument out of Norris’ favour may be that the cause of his success comes from the faltering performance of Mercedes early in the season.

An example of where this idea may have been deduced is the Monaco Grand Prix that took place in May earlier this year.

Valtteri Bottas, who would normally make an appearance in the top five at least, suffered an early retirement due to a tyre removal issues consequently leaving a space open for Norris. Accompanying this, Hamilton’s poor qualifying result left him midfield the whole race, again leaving a spot for Norris in the top 3.

But in the case of Norris’ success, there is always a point on the contrary.

Norris has successfully taken a spot on the podium whilst both Mercedes have been fully functioning and racing hard at the Austrian Grand Prix in July. Therefore, its valid to conclude that the failure of Mercedes, or any other front runners on the grid, does not contribute towards the success of Norris.

So, I believe it is fair to say that Lando Norris’ success reflects his talent as a Formula 1 driver rather than a case of overachievement. The combination of consistency, determination, and support from his team and his ever-growing fan base has likely been the cause of him continuing to deliver more and more each race.

It is shocking for McLarens youngest ever driver to storm the standings in his third year of racing. But whether people believe it is overachievement or pure talent, the points, the races and the extension of his contract all speak for themselves in showing there is no doubt that Lando Norris is an astounding Formula 1 driver.