Lewis Hamilton and Mercedes warned McLaren’s ‘big hour’ coming with Norris and Ricciardo | F1 | Sport

Lewis Hamilton and Mercedes have been warned that McLaren’s “big hour” is coming in 2022 and that the Woking-based Formula One team will soon be back to their very best.

The eight-time Constructors’ Championship winners – who have had eight title-winning drivers including Hamilton in 2008 since they started in F1 in 1966 – managed their best finish since 2012 last season.

Only Red Bull and Mercedes scored more points of the teams as Carlos Sainz finished sixth and Lando Norris came ninth in the drivers’ standings.

Sainz has since moved to Ferrari but McLaren have added Daniel Ricciardo, a winner of seven Grands Prix and a driver who clinched two podiums with Renault last year, to their team on a three-year contract.

Norris will meanwhile enter his third season in F1 in 2021 and insists he is ready to take on more of a leadership role given he has greater knowledge of how the team works than his Australian team-mate.

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The highly-rated 21-year-old signed what McLaren called only a multi-year contract in July 2019 to stay with the team for the foreseeable future and is likely to be their long-term title hope, if they can maintain their current rate of progression.

And former F1 team boss Eddie Jordan is confident that McLaren are on the up, having switched to Mercedes power units from Renault technology for 2021.

Their challenger for this year – the MCL35M – was unveiled earlier this month with Norris completing an installation lap in wet conditions at Silverstone.

Jordan does not expect their 2021 challenger to rival Mercedes and Red Bull, but he thinks they could be major contenders in 2022 when Formula One’s new regulations come into effect.

“McLaren will find its way back to old strength in the future,” Jordan told F1-Insider.com.

“I think 2022 will be their big hour. [At Aston Martin, Sebastian] Vettel must absolutely perform this year and prevail against [Lance] Stroll.

“Lance can be very fast, but so far he has lacked consistency. McLaren is better staffed in terms of driving. Ricciardo is one of the best and Norris is a super talent.”

Hamilton is not guaranteed to be in F1 in 2022 with his contract with the Silver Arrows expiring at the end of this season and the 36-year-old having the option to call time on his career after 15 seasons.

Mercedes boss Toto Wolff, however, believes McLaren’s line-up of Ricciardo and Norris will also produce some shock results in 2021 too.

Speaking to Italian F1 outlet Speed Week, Wolff said: “McLaren will be good for big surprises.

“[Daniel] Ricciardo is a well-known figure. And personally I think very highly of Lando Norris.”

While seven-time world champion Hamilton has declared that he would love to see his former employers enter title contention this year.

“I’m really happy to see the McLaren so close, particularly with how they’ve got changes and they’re using our engine next year,” the Briton said.

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“It’s great to see that, at the end of the year with a good car, so that they can perhaps be in the fight with us next year.

“If that makes it a three-way team championship. I think that would be amazing for the fans to see.”

McLaren team principal Andreas Seidl responded, when talking to gpfans.com: “It’s obviously nice for all of us at McLaren that Lewis, who started his career at McLaren and won his first title with McLaren, is respecting and watching the progress we make as a team.

“But as I have said before, we have a clear picture and a realistic picture of where we are as a team. The guys in Brixworth are obviously very experienced.

“There is obviously a bit of history between the guys at Brixworth and McLaren which helped to get going again, but it is also clear it is a different partnership compared to the past.

“There is a Mercedes works team in Formula One and we are a customer, but I am very happy with everything I have seen so far with the integration of the Mercedes power unit.

“It is going really well and we should be in good shape from the first race onwards.”