McLaren boss Zak Brown says the bromance between Daniel Ricciardo and Lando Norris could become explosive on track.
Ever-smiling Ricciardo has arrived from Renault to replace Carlos Sainz and will team up with social media star Lando Norris in what promises to be a partnership built on banter and practical jokes.
But Brown expects them to ditch the “goofy odd couple” act when it comes down to business and says he fully expects to be in a position to warn them about their fierce battles on track as they slug it out for position.
“Everyone is expecting them to be a goofy odd couple but I am expecting more seriousness. They are both out to prove something,” Brown said.
“Daniel is at the stage of his career where he wants to fight for a world championship. I don’t think we will be able to do that this year, but hopefully we will in the future.
“And Lando is no longer the ‘younger brother’ of his teammate and so I think we are going to see two extremely fast racing drivers with personalities, but once they are in the garage it will all be business.
“Lando is going to be coming into his third year and has matured as a driver and Daniel is a seven-time race winner and those results speak for themselves.
“They are both extremely fast and Daniel is very aggressive and I think they will be tough to each other on track.
“I think we are going to have to manage them on track. Carlos and Lando gave each other a lot of room when they raced, but I think Daniel and Lando will be closer wheel-to-wheel.
“So we might need to make sure that everyone races hard but also races clean.
“I do think we have the most exciting driver pairing both on the track and off it.
“They both have an energy and ambition that has made McLaren a youthful and energetic racing team.”
McLaren had an excellent season in 2020 after finishing third in the constructors’ championship.
Their new partnership does look exciting, plus they will use the superior Mercedes engines in 2021.
However, Brown says it would be wrong to talk up their chances of improving this season and challenging for the title.
“The reality is, we went into the last race of the year and we could have finished, third, fourth or fifth,” he said.
“AlphaTauri came on strong. If it had been a 22-race calendar with five more races, they were catching the midfield.
“And Ferrari you can never count them out with the resources they had. And if you had two Charles Leclercs, I don’t think they would have finished the season in sixth.
“Sebastian Vettel had a poor season for whatever reason and now they have Carlos.
“So I think three to seven is going to be the same group but you could throw balls in the air and the third placed team could be seventh!
“There was nothing in it. At one point last year, all those teams were the quickest and when it is that close, it is exciting for the fans of the sport, but also nerve-racking.”
– The Sun