Norris: No-one expected Vettel to leave Ferrari after 2020

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Lando Norris believes Sebastian Vettel caught Formula 1 off-guard by leaving Ferrari at the end of this season.

Despite months of speculation, the announcement came rather suddenly last month that he and the Italian team had agreed they would not renew his contract beyond 2020.

That appeared to cause a ripple effect as, just two days later, Ferrari confirmed Carlos Sainz as Vettel's replacement with Daniel Ricciardo joining Norris at McLaren.

Later it emerged the Spaniard had been in talks for almost six months over a 2021 seat, but his current teammate was at least one who didn't expect it to happen.

“It wasn’t so much of a surprise of Daniel coming to McLaren, but I think the bigger surprise was Carlos leaving McLaren for Ferrari and Vettel leaving Ferrari,” Norris told Autosport.

“I guess it was a bit of a shock, especially because no-one really expected Seb to do what he did and not to sign with Ferrari again. I think as soon as Seb didn’t sign, then you knew something was going to happen.

2020 test f1 sebastian vettel day 2

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“Everyone seemed quite firmly in place with their teams because no one was really expecting it. I guess something of a surprise was going to happen and obviously Carlos went for it and got the seat. Fair play to him, I’m happy for him.

“But I don’t think the Ricciardo thing was as much of a surprise because obviously I knew that McLaren wanted him back before the 2019 season, so I knew he was on the radar.

"After McLaren did better than Renault last year, maybe it would have changed his mind of what he did.”

With Norris and Ricciardo, McLaren has arguably the two the biggest characters on the grid in their cars next year.

But, as the Woking-based outfit eyes closing the gap on the top three teams, Lando believes the Australian can be crucial in achieving that aim.

“He’s got the experience of winning races, and that’s something that Carlos didn’t, although Carlos is an extremely good driver,” he said.

“Daniel’s obviously just got that bit more experience with working with those top teams and knowing what’s exactly needed to win races. So his mentality of that side of things is something that’s going to be different from what Carlos had and I think.

“I’ve never spent two years in any category apart from my first years of karting, and now this is my second year of F1," Norris added.

"Staying in it and working with a different teammate is the first time I have been in this situation, so I don’t really know what to expect, I think it’s still relatively new for me.

“He’s got the experience of working with a race-winning team and he knows what’s needed from them, so learning from him on that side of things I think is the most valuable part.

"He can also bring a lot to the team and obviously help the team improve as well. I guess we’ll find out next year.”