Lando Norris backed to get better of new team-mate Oscar Piastri

Lando Norris has come out on top in a recent poll with the Briton tipped to get the better of his new McLaren team-mate in the upcoming Formula One season – though fans are split on whether he can record an elusive race win in 2023. McLaren hope they can benefit from how much new driver Oscar Piastri is “challenging” the team ahead of his debut season.

The Aussie is a Formula One rookie set to partner Norris, who himself is still only 23. But the latter is much more experienced and is about to begin his fifth season in the sport – and his first as the true leader of the team on the track.

According to a poll of Express Sport readers, a staggering 91 per cent of you voted that Norris will be the top-performing McLaren driver this year. Of those people that voted, only seven per cent think that McLaren will be able to challenge for the title this season, however.

The team are expected to be some way behind likely pace-setters Red Bull. They have been tipped by 71 per cent of fans to beat Alpine though, who pipped them to fourth in the Constructors’ Championship late in 2022.

Yet Norris may face frustration in his search for a first ever F1 win, with 52 per cent believing McLaren will not win a race this year.

Norris has spoken repeatedly about his desire to match the likes of George Russell and Charles Leclerc in becoming a race winner. Despite the damning figures, Andrea Stella, the new McLaren team principal, thinks 2021 Formula Two champion Piastri has been making his presence felt as the team gears up for the approaching campaign.

He said: “We gave him some audio files to listen to of previous races. The way he gets to the bottom of matters, even making questions, ‘Why did you guys do this here? You could have done that.’

“He challenges you. In a very polite and constructive way, but he doesn’t take things superficially, he doesn’t stop challenging just to please. This is what we want. We want to be challenged.

“In this sense, he is a demanding guy who can help raise standards, by being almost constantly unhappy. Even driving on the simulator, you let him drive and you can observe the way a driver challenges himself in terms of finding speed.

“There are drivers with whom you have to guide the process step-by-step, while Oscar was pretty much able to go very close to the limit exploring his own resources. In this sense, he was impressive.”

Understandably, then, Norris is expecting some pressure from his new team-mate this year. The Brit believes the addition of the hungry F2 champion is “absolutely going to help us as a team”.

He added: “It’s going to force me to push the limit maybe that little bit more. It’s actually something I was doing last year, but it might just be that he’s able to push me more in different areas of my driving.

“And that should only be able to help us take a step forward as a team and to also score more points as a team by the end of the season.”

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