Lando Norris firmly established himself as one of Formula 1’s top talents with his devastating speed and dismantling of new McLaren teammate Daniel Ricciardo.

Norris was edged out by Carlos Sainz during their two seasons together so many - including myself - tipped Ricciardo to be McLaren’s team leader in 2021, given his favourable records against Nico Hulkenberg and Esteban Ocon in the two seasons prior.

The 22-year-old was a standout performer in the first half of the year, finishing inside the top five in nine of the first 10 races to put him ahead of Mercedes’ Valtteri Bottas and Red Bull’s Sergio Perez in the standings.

Without running slightly wide on his Q3 effort at Imola, Norris might have taken pole position, but he made up for it on race day with a fine drive to third.

On the eve of the Monaco weekend, Norris signed a new multi-year deal with McLaren - a well-deserved reward for a driver whose performances were only eclipsed by Max Verstappen in the first half of the season.

Norris finished on the podium in Monaco and soon followed that up with another fine drive to third at the Austrian Grand Prix after starting on the front row of the grid behind Verstappen.

The McLaren driver was the favourite for pole position in the wet at Spa but crashed up Eau Rouge on his first run in Q3.

The speed was there and his maiden victory was surely around the corner if things went his way.

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As expected, McLaren had the pace at Monza with its straight-line performance acting as a strong defensive buffer against Mercedes and Red Bull, but it was Ricciardo who made the most of it.

In a typical opportunistic fashion - as he made a habit of during his time with Red Bull - Ricciardo capitalised on Bottas’ grid penalty and sluggish starts for the two title contenders to take the lead and control the race from the front.

Norris backed his teammate up to give McLaren its first 1-2 of the season at Monza, which surprisingly, ended up being the only 1-2 finish of any team across the season.

The young Brit’s big moment finally came at Sochi after securing his maiden pole position with a timely switch to slick tyres on a drying track in qualifying.

Norris had the race under control, despite pressure from a recovering Lewis Hamilton, until a late downpour and a refusal to switch to inters cost him his maiden F1 victory.

It was a tough pill to swallow but another sign that Norris was the real deal.

His and McLaren’s form never seemed to recover with Ferrari’s resurgence in the second half of the year combined with Norris’ bad luck (punctures in Qatar and Abu Dhabi) saw him drop to sixth in the drivers’ championship, while the team was fourth in the constructors’.

Norris can’t let his bad luck or slight downturn in performance detract from his impressive 2021 campaign.

Should McLaren give him the car, there’s no doubt that Norris is ready to go all the way in 2022.