McLaren must 'preserve' Norris/Sainz partnership with Ricciardo

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McLaren admit "preserving" the relationship Lando Norris enjoyed with Carlos Sainz will be crucial as Daniel Ricciardo joins in 2021.

Despite only being teammates for two seasons, 'CarLando' became one of the biggest bromances on the grid and was largely credited for helping McLaren make huge gains on the track, finishing third in last year's Constructors' Championship.

Obviously Ricciardo is also known for his banter, and he and Norris already have a solid friendship due to their similar personalities.

However, when it comes to the pair working together as teammates, McLaren racing director Andrea Stella realises the Australian will have his own approach.

“The most important thing from my point of view is that we preserve the conditions we created to allow that high level of collaboration between Carlos and Lando," he was quoted by PlanetF1.

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“But it’s not just about preserving those conditions, we may have to adapt them. Daniel is not Carlos and his relationship with Lando will be different.

“It may be similar, but it will not be the same and we need to be mindful of that and adapt with a view to maintaining the standards."

Stella also praised Norris for how he has worked with McLaren since earning a race seat in 2019.

“After two years of racing in F1 and having been so evenly matched with Carlos, Lando has shown he has all the qualities to become a top driver in the sport," the former Ferrari chief added. "We head into 2021 with a very exciting and competitive driver line-up.”

Happily for McLaren, and indeed Ricciardo, who began the New Year by publishing his first photos in the team colours, he will have a familiar face in technical director James Key.

“He’s an excellent driver to work with,” said the Briton, who worked with Ricciardo at Toro Rosso.

“He will have accumulated plenty of experience and knowledge since I last worked with him, so I expect he will be several steps ahead of where he was back then in terms of what he will bring to the team.

“He arrives as a proven race winner and someone who can go toe-to-toe with the very best drivers.

“Daniel is very easy to get on with but he’s hugely determined and that has a positive effect on any team.

“He will be a great reference point for us and, together with Lando, we will have one of the strongest driver pairings in the paddock.”