Today is the day. Practice starts at the Bahrain Grand Prix with the 2022 F1 season officially beginning, and it’s going to be one of the most exciting years of the sport yet. A number of regulation changes and cost caps have wiped the chalk off the blackboard, bringing the grid closer together and upping the excitement around those podium positions.
It’s difficult to say who could finish where, but Lando Norris of McLaren is feeling confident about the work he and his team have done during the pre-season practices. In fact, he thinks he could be wheel-on-wheel with the likes of Lewis Hamilton and Max Verstappen – something we’d love to see.
At 22 years old, the British driver is now beginning his fourth year behind the wheel of an F1 car and he’s sure that his car’s performance now matches his own skills. He was asked by BBC Sport if he thinks he has what it takes:
“I believe so,” Norris answers. “Doesn’t mean I’d always come out on top, but definitely a few times.”
He admits that he’s “a little bit nervous” about McLaren’s front-brake cooling issues, but he’s starting the season with a confident state of mind after such a successful 2021.
I always want it to be perfect.
“With everything I do, I always need it to be done right and done properly and I won’t be happy until it’s done as close to perfection as possible.
“And secondly, various things with driving, adapting to different scenarios and being ready to drive outside my comfort zone and getting used to more different driving styles.”
On being asked if he will ever be satisfied, he admits: “Never. Maybe one day. I don’t know.
“You ask most drivers ‘will you ever be satisfied?’ and I think most would say no.
“It is similar with all top athletes in different sports. They always believe there is a place they can do better.
“We always want to do that perfect lap. It’s almost impossible to ever do, but it is what we are searching and driving towards.
“Similar with golfers hitting a perfect shot or a perfect 18. They always want to do one thing perfect and then put it all together and that’s when it comes to a whole race weekend.
“You want to get to a point where everything’s subconscious. That’s when you really get in your element and in a zone where you can get out and drive normally, but your ‘normal and at ease’ is at a higher level than everyone else can do when they’re trying.
“Everyone has these moments when they go out and things just work, and you can just drive without thinking about it and they’re just very quick, and as soon as they went to improve something they do it and they’re even quicker.
“That’s what you see with top drivers and it doesn’t mean you don’t work. It’s the opposite – you work so much and you spend so much time trying to find perfection and gains that you understand everything in the back of your mind.
“In the back of your head everything’s swirling around, but in the front of your head you don’t have to think about what you’re doing. And that’s when things are going very well.”
Practice begins today at Bahrain and we’re very excited to see which teams come out on top over the next few days.