Norris: 2020 McLaren feels more like 'my baby'

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Lando Norris says the input he has had into developing the new McLaren makes the MCL35 feel more like "my baby".

The young Brit enters his second season on the Formula 1 grid, having impressed in his rookie year even if results were somewhat blighted by bad luck and reliability issues.

Now comes the inevitable challenge of taking the next step by showing the progression of a driver with a year's experience and better preparation under their belt.

And Norris certainly feels he can do just that in 2020.

“It feels great. If I think back to this time last year, well I can’t say the word I was going to say, but I was pooping myself a lot last year. Especially at this point," he told Sky Sports of his emotions at the launch of the new car.

“Now I’m a lot more confident, and a lot more relaxed and that prepares me better for this season.”

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Having been focused on settling into his seat at McLaren last year, much of the emphasis was on teammate Carlos Sainz to drive development and setup with the car.

But now Lando too feels much more part of the process and can put his mark on the MCL35.

“I pretty much designed the whole thing,” the cheeky 20-year-old joked.

“This car is based on last year's and everything we went through last year and comments and discussion between us as drivers have been put into this car and based around that.

“It’s a lot more ‘my car’ – we’ve had the input into making this so it feels more like ‘my baby’ and I can’t wait to get driving it!”

Last year, Norris also quickly became a fan favourite for his social media interactions, memes and jovial character, with him and Daniel Ricciardo becoming quite the comedy duo.

At the same time, however, he admits that approach also caused a backlash and Lando is keen for it not to become an excuse.

“I’ll still have fun, I’ll still make jokes and do what I do,” he said via RaceFans.

“But there are times when sometimes I need to – not shift my focus because I still worked hard and every time I needed to work on things and focus, I did – but things can get portrayed quite differently from what I know and see myself compared to the outside world.

“A lot of people see me make jokes and whatever, and therefore they turn and put a lot of blame [for] mistakes I do on me having fun and them seeing me look like I don't focus compared to other drivers.

"I don’t want me being portrayed that way, basically, but I’m not going to change a lot it’s just small things here and there.

“So it’s just trying to get the balance right I think and trying to put them both together as well as possible with how people see me.”