In the world of Formula 1, where precision engineering and split-second decisions can make or break a race, the question of whether teams customize their cars to suit the driving style of their star drivers is a hot topic. The 2023 season has seen Red Bull Racing dominate the circuit, with Max Verstappen leading the charge. However, amidst their stellar performance, claims have arisen suggesting that Red Bull tailors their F1 cars specifically to Max Verstappen’s unique driving style.
Mercedes Team Principal Toto Wolff and hints from Sergio Perez have indirectly suggested this possibility. But one man who firmly dismisses these claims is none other than Lando Norris. Norris, a rising star in Formula 1 and a key figure in McLaren’s resurgence, has taken a stance against the idea that Red Bull is designing their cars around Verstappen’s style.
“It’s not down to the team to just make a car design for a person.
“Maybe that’s a perfect world. It’s our job to deliver no matter what the car is.
“Max said something very similar the other day after Toto made the comment about the Red Bull. I don’t think you can just design a car for someone. It just doesn’t work like that.”
Norris makes a compelling argument, emphasizing a driver’s responsibility to adapt and extract peak performance from the machinery provided by the team. In his view, a Formula 1 driver must be versatile, capable of wringing out the maximum potential from any car. Regardless of how the car is designed, it is ultimately up to the driver to make the most of it on the racetrack.
The debate around this issue gained momentum as Verstappen continued his outstanding season, securing an impressive 13 victories, and Red Bull clinching the Constructors’ Championship. However, the contrasting performance of Verstappen’s teammate, Sergio Perez, raised eyebrows. Perez, who managed only two wins, led to speculations about possible favoritism in car design within the team.
“It’s very much down to the driver to drive the car they’re given.
“I think this way, if I end up being slower than my team-mates because of whatever reason, then I’m not doing a good enough job. It’s as simple as that. It’s the driver’s job. That’s why we’re here.”
Despite McLaren’s remarkable season turnaround, which saw Norris achieve four podium finishes, he remains steadfast in his belief that speed should take precedence over a car’s compatibility with a driver’s style. Norris understands the allure of a car that perfectly matches a driver’s preferences but firmly asserts that he would choose a challenging, high-speed machine over a comfortable, slower car any day.
Lando Norris, in an interview with RacingNews365, elaborated on his standpoint. He pointed out the discernible performance gap between Verstappen and Perez within the Red Bull team, highlighting a sequence where Perez failed to reach Q3 in qualifying for five consecutive events. The stark difference in their performances fueled rumors in the paddock, and Toto Wolff’s insinuations added to the intrigue.
While Perez acknowledged that the Red Bull RB19 did not entirely align with his preferences this year, the question of whether the team intentionally tailored their cars to Verstappen’s liking remained unanswered. Norris, however, stays focused on his own journey with McLaren, emphasizing the driver’s role in extracting the best results from any car.
In the high-stakes world of Formula 1, where milliseconds can determine victory or defeat, the debate over car customization will likely persist. But one thing is clear: Lando Norris firmly believes that a driver’s skill and adaptability should be the defining factors in a successful Formula 1 career.
“Yes, you want the car to be nice to you and suit you. But drivers get they get paid enough money to make the best of every circumstance.
“Whether it’s a car they like, they don’t like is tricky, is safe, whatever it is. It’s our job to go and just drive what the team give us.
“You can have a quick car and one that is great to drive but at the end of the day, I will always pick driving a difficult car that’s quick than a nice car that’s slow.
“And I think we know that our priority is just to make a quick car. If it’s difficult it’s difficult, then we can work on making it a better car to drive.
“But at the end of the day, I care what car I drive because I would love a nice car to drive. But I would pick every day a quicker car over an easy car. Because I think that’s our job.”