Norris has earned "breathing space" with strong start
Lando Norris's strong start to his rookie Formula 1 campaign has earned him some "breathing space" from criticism for inevitable mistakes, reckons his McLaren CEO Zak Brown.
The young British driver has made it through to Q3 at both races so far this season, and scored his first F1 points with a sixth-place finish at the Bahrain Grand Prix last weekend.
With Norris' performance having more than justified McLaren's faith in promoting him, Brown says that one of the major benefits right now is that it will take the heat off him if he does slip up at some point.
"It gives him a bit of breathing space because, for sure, he is going to make a mistake here at some point," explained Brown.
"He has got a little bit of a breather now, so if he goes out and does something silly in China not everyone is going to jump on him in the same way that they would if he went out made a mistake in Australia in FP1.
"I am happy for him that that will give him a chance."
Brown said the vastly changed perceptions of Charles Leclerc, who 12 months ago was facing sceptics suggesting he could not cope with the pressures of F1, shows why taking the pressure off is a help for Norris.
"It is such a high pressure environment," he said. "Just look at Leclerc last year. It was after three races that people were asking when he was going to get fired. And now – he should have won in Bahrain.
"So it is good he [Norris] has come out of the gates strong because it will give him a little bit of space."
Norris' promotion to the McLaren F1 team came despite a few wobbles in F2 last year, when he lost out to George Russell in the fight for the title.
But despite some suggesting Norris would have better off staying in F2 for another year, Brown said his F1 team never doubted that he was ready to move up to grand prix racing.
Reflecting on a few F2 difficulties Norris faced, Brown said: "It wasn't concerning because we saw what he was doing in our F1 car, and we knew at the end of the day that what we was doing in the F1 car was most important.
"He was great in FP1s when we put him in. He was quicker than Stoffel [Vandoorne] when he was up against Stoffel, and he was right on the pace of Fernando. His feedback was good too, so we tended to focus more on that than what was going on in F2."
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