breaking news


today is Jan 28, 2022

McLaren may have lost third place in the constructors’ championship to Ferrari in 2021, but it was still a memorable season for the Woking-based team.

The arrival of multiple race winner Daniel Ricciardo to the team alongside third-year driver Lando Norris saw McLaren possess arguably the most popular driver line up on the grid. But from the outset, the newest McLaren driver could not find his comfort zone in an unfamiliar cockpit.

Ricciardo made no secret of how he struggled to fully grasp the braking nuances required to extract the maximum potential from the MCL35M. This could be seen from the opening rounds of the season, where despite qualifying ahead of his team mate in both Bahrain and Imola, Norris’s superior race pace led McLaren to ask Ricciardo to let him through early in the Emilia-Romagna Grand Prix. Norris went on to record a first podium of the season in third place.

Sporting a smart one-off Gulf livery around the streets of Monaco, both McLaren drivers also drew attention for very different reasons on race day. While Norris drove brilliantly to take a spot on the coveted Monaco podium with third place, Ricciardo’s pace was so poor his team mate lapped him, en route to a lowly 12th.

Five straight races without a Q3 appearance only further reflected how difficult Ricciardo was finding it to adapt to the car, as Norris continued to beat his more experienced team mate on both Saturdays and Sundays until the summer break. Going into the shutdown period, Norris sat as high as third in the drivers’ championship with more than double the points tally that Ricciardo had amassed down in ninth place.

The break appeared to do Ricciardo good as he immediately secured his best finish of the season when the championship resumed in Spa – albeit thanks to the race never getting close to being started.

Then at Monza, everything seemed to come together. Starting second and third on the grid after sprint qualifying race winner Valtteri Bottas was hit with a grid penalty, Ricciardo leapt out into the lead ahead of Max Verstappen while Norris gave chase in third. When the two championship contenders crashed out, the two McLarens were handed a golden opportunity for the team’s first win since the 2012 Brazilian Grand Prix.

Lando Norris, McLaren, Sochi Autodrom, 2021 A breakthrough win got away from Norris in Russia

Ricciardo demonstrated he’d lost none of his race-winning ability and led Norris home in the only one-two finish any team enjoyed all season – only the third time Ricciardo had reached the chequered flag ahead of Norris all year. Norris took a stunning pole the next round in Russia and had a real opportunity to take his first career win in the race before gambling to stay out on dry tyres on an increasingly wet track saw his hopes evaporate.

That was the closest either McLaren driver got to the podium for the remainder of the season, as the team began to lose touch with Ferrari in the battle over third in the constructors’ championship. Ricciardo finished ahead of Norris in the United States and Saudi Arabia, but otherwise Norris was the faster McLaren on race day during the latter part of the season.

As the season came to an end Norris was narrowly beaten to fifth in the drivers’ championship by former McLaren team mate Carlos Sainz Jnr, while Ricciardo only just finished the season ahead of Pierre Gasly in eighth. Overall, Norris comfortably won the qualifying battle 15-7, while he reached the chequered flag ahead of his team mate on 14 occasions, losing out only six times.

Advert | Become a RaceFans supporter and

Lando Norris vs Daniel Ricciardo: Key stats

Lando Norris Daniel Ricciardo 0% 25% 50% 75% 100% Faster in qualifying Finished ahead Share of points Laps ahead 15 14 160 835 7 6 115 364
Metric Lando Norris Daniel Ricciardo Faster in qualifying 15 7 Finished ahead 14 6 Share of points 160 115 Laps ahead 835 364

Lando Norris vs Daniel Ricciardo: Who finished ahead at each round

Lando Norris vs Daniel Ricciardo: Qualifying gap

Lando Norris qualifying gap to Daniel Ricciardo Gap (s) Bahrain Emilia-… Portugal Spain Monaco Azerba… France Styria Austria Great… Hungary Belgium Netherl… Italy Russia Turkey USA Mexico Brazil Qatar Saudi… Abu Dh… -2.5 -2.0 -1.5 -1.0 -0.5 0.0 0.5 1.0 Race Gap (s)
Race Gap (s) Bahrain 0.047 Emilia-Romagna 0.049 Portugal -1.045 Spain 0.388 Monaco -0.567 Azerbaijan -0.745 France -0.13 Styria -0.844 Austria -0.304 Great Britain -0.002 Hungary -0.486 Belgium -1.102 Netherlands 0.541 Italy -0.006 Russia -2.163 Turkey -0.743 USA 0.079 Mexico Brazil -0.059 Qatar -0.381 Saudi Arabia -0.324 Abu Dhabi -0.478

Times based on the last qualifying round at each race weekend in which both drivers set a time. Negative indicates Lando Norris was faster, positive means Daniel Ricciardo was faster

Advert | Become a RaceFans supporter and

2021 F1 season review

  • 21 telling stats covering every driver in the 2021 F1 season
  • Vote for your 2021 Formula 1 Driver of the Year
  • Improving Sainz pips Leclerc at end of first season together at Ferrari
  • Alonso narrowly beats Ocon in the closest team mate duel of the year
  • The best moments and biggest disappointments of the 2021 F1 season

Browse all 2021 F1 season review articles