McLaren’s Lando Norris feels that another year at the sideline testing F1 cars wouldn’t have changed things for him during his first year.

In his inaugural F1 season, McLaren driver Norris quickly found his stride, having success almost instantly in Bahrain, and maintaining that good form throughout the year. He finished the year 11th in the standings with 49 points in his kitty.

From the outside, the young Brit seemingly remained calm and collected all-through, but in Abu Dhabi, Norris told the media including that he had serious worries heading into 2019, as he prepared to make the jump from F2 to F1.

“I think I can be very happy from how our season’s gone,” said Norris. “For myself, from the team. I think starting with myself, there’s been a lot of good things. And coming into the season. I wasn’t very confident with how I was going to do.

“So, I’m happy I kind of prove myself wrong and have done a good job and been able to give myself more confidence and improved as a driver and I got some good results too. I still a lot of things I need to improve on [though].

“With the team, I think it speaks for itself, where we were last year where we ended up in the constructors’, where we were on average in qualifying and in the race. The contrast to this year has been pretty huge. So I think that says enough.

“There’s been a very a lot of very good things, but there’s still things which have not been so good, and the things the team needs to improve. So I think we can be happy but there’s still a long way to go to be able to race with Red Bulls, Ferraris or Mercedes.

“So we can be happy but not overly happy and get ahead of ourselves going into next year.” Norris later elaborated on this lack of confidence, citing the fierce competition in the highest level of single-seater racing making him feel he may not be quick enough.

“I didn’t know if I was going to be quick enough, going up against a driver who’s done four years in F1, in McLaren, just in F1, against so many good drivers,” said Norris. “I didn’t know if I was going to be able to do a good enough job every time.

“I just didn’t believe in myself much. But already even after Australia and in Bahrain and then so on, I already gained a lot of confidence from that. It was simply just not knowing if I was going to be able to keep up.”

Despite this fear heading into the F1 season, however, Norris maintained that 2019 was the right time to join the sport, as he feels the effect would have been the same, even with more preparations such as testing or perhaps racing in F2.

“I think even if I did another year of testing, I would have been the same,” said Norris, when asked by, in particular. “Just going into into things you can’t prepare for necessarily, the pressure of going into qualifying, the pressure of going into the race thinking about however many things.

“There’s so many you can practice, and pre-season testing and everything. It’s still all changes when you’re in the moment of doing qualifying and you’re doing the race, the pressure and racing people, it’s all very different to just testing.

“So sometimes I was fast in testing and be just as quick as Fernando, or just as quick as Stoffel. And that gave me a bit of confidence. But it didn’t mean anything. It didn’t mean I would be going into Australia and be able to nail qualifying and then nail the race.

“It’s so completely different. So that’s why another year of testing wouldn’t have changed how I thought about it.” Norris had mostly one-year stints in the junior categories he raced, where he won almost every championship he raced, apart from F2.

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The story was written by Duncan Leahy and edited by Darshan Chokhani