Lando Norris and Daniel Ricciardo tipped to build title-winning partnership at McLaren

Top Gear: Lando Norris performs donuts after completing lap

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McLaren might just have one of the strongest driver partnerships going forward in Daniel Ricciardo and Lando Norris, according to the former’s performance coach. Michael Italiano believes the future is bright for the team and both drivers if they can build on the bond they have already struck in their first year as team-mates.

Ricciardo has long been a favourite on the grid, with fans drawn to his affable personality and penchant for a practical joke.

And Norris has built up a loyal fanbase of his own, through his youthful charm and regular streaming sessions on his Twitch channel.

But that doesn’t take anything away from how quick they both are as well, with both proving themselves to be very good racers over the years.

Ricciardo is a multi-race winner, and broke a dry spell by claiming victory at Monza this year – his first P1 with McLaren and also his first since leaving Red Bull.

Norris is yet to stand on the top step of the podium, but was second behind his team-mate in a historic one-two in Italy and could have gone one better in Sochi had a sudden downpour not scuppered his chances.

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But, having just turned 22, he still has plenty of time to achieve that and has been tipped as a future world champion if he can build on the potential he has shown so far.

As two very popular racers with proven ability, Italiano, who alongside his work in F1 runs his own online training platform MI Coaching, believes they can strike a winning partnership in the years to come.

“Lando has been improving year in, year out and there’s definitely a bright future for that young Brit – and for McLaren if there is to be a long future there for Lando,” he told Express Sport.

“There’s been a good dynamic this year and I think Team DR and Lando will keep going from strength to strength as they keep driving together.”

Having found a new home at McLaren, the focus in Ricciardo’s first season has been firmly on settling in and getting to grips with the way the car and the team operate.

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Now he has done that, it’s time for the Australian to build on a first season which brought highs and lows.

Italiano insists Ricciardo still believes he can be a world champion, and that is the goal they continue to work towards.

“A world title one day is 100% the goal – it’s always been the goal from day one,” he added.

“I have full belief that he’s good enough for a world championship, and he’s got full belief that he’s the best. If the car is good enough, he’ll make it happen.”

Meanwhile, 1996 champion Damon Hill believes his team-mate Norris can also go on to achieve that goal.

He singled out the McLaren youngster and fellow Briton George Russell as two great hopes who can impact upon the sport in the future.

“I think there are a few people who you can point at and say: ‘These guys have got what it takes’,” he told Express Sport.

“He’s just a cut above, able to sail through difficulties. Both George and Lando are great racers, really good at when it comes to getting stuck into the race, and the qualifying pace is there too.

“Running at the front is about other things, and not allowing them to interfere with your talent. That’s another challenge, but they both seem really smart kids and I’m sure they will be able to cope.”

Michael Italiano is Daniel Ricciardo’s F1 performance coach and the owner of MI Coaching. To find your individual training plan and begin your fitness journey, visit www.michaelitaliano.com.

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