McLaren Racing officially introduces new car, drivers Daniel Ricciardo and Lando Norris

McLaren Ricciardo Norris
McLaren Racing

McLaren Racing officially announced Lando Norris and Daniel Ricciardo as their 2021 Formula 1 drivers and unveiled the McLaren MCL35M this week in a launch party at the organization’s Surrey, England headquarters.

Norris will return to McLaren to compete for his third full season. Ricciardo moves from Renault to McLaren after two season with the rival team. This will be Ricciardo’s 11th season with Formula 1.

Looking to build on momentum from the 2020 season, McLaren expects to continue to battle for one of the top spots in the constructor’s championship. Last year they finished third in the standings on the strength of two podiums. Norris scored one of these early in the year with a third-place finish in the Austrian Grand Prix at the Red Bull Ring in Spielberg, Austria. His teammate at the time, Carlos Sainz finished fifth in that race and later scored a dramatic runner-up result in the Italian Grand Prix in Monza.

Ricciardo earned two podiums last year driving for Renault. These came at the Nurburgring in Germany and the Autodrome Ferrari in Imola, Italy.

Last year’s constructor’s championship showcased a fierce battle for third that might have gone to one of three teams in the final race at Abu Dhabi. McLaren narrowly beat Racing Point by seven points for the honor. Renault was 21 points behind in fifth.

“It’s crazy to think this is the 11th season I will be in Formula 1,” Ricciardo said at the launch party. “It goes quick. Even though that sounds like a long time, I still feel young and energized, but now with the benefit of all that experience.”

Ricciardo has seven Formula 1 wins to his credit in a career that has already spanned a decade. The most recent of these came in 2018 when he won the famed Monte Carlo Grand Prix after starting on the pole with Red Bull Racing.

Norris has only one podium finish. That was also his first career top-five finish, but he went on to score five more top-fives including the next week in a second race at Spielberg.

“Every time I get into the car I feel like I’m growing in confidence and experience, which helps me build my performance year-on-year,” Norris said in a release. “I’ve been working hard personally throughout the off season to be as sharp as I can when we get to preseason testing, and I can’t wait to get back in the car soon.”

McLaren Ricciardo Norris
McLaren Racing livery includes the iconic papaya orange and blue, colors first carried in the 1960s with founder, Bruce McLaren, at the wheel. (McLaren Racing).

McLaren also revealed their new car at the launch party. With new chassis and aerodynamic developments over the winter, McLaren introduced a new power unit supplied by Mercedes-AMG.

Mercedes won the constructor’s championship with Lewis Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas last year.

“After a challenging but rewarding 2020, we have firmly hit the reset button for this season as we continue on our path towards the front of the grid,” said McLaren’s CEO Zak Brown. “This will be an even tougher season but we’re ready to meet the challenge.

“I want to pay tribute to Formula 1 and the FIA and our fellow teams in continuing to work hard for the benefit of our sport as we strive to bring exciting racing to fans around the world.”

Ricciardo has known he would race with McLaren since early in 2020. The announcement of his switchover came in May, when a seat at McLaren opened up with the announcement that Ferrari hired Sainz to replace Sebastian Vettel for 2021.

“It’s great to have finally joined the team after what feels like an age since we confirmed it last May,” Ricciardo said. “I’m thrilled to be a McLaren driver and super keen to get started. McLaren has been on an awesome journey over the last few years, and I’m looking forward to helping the team maintain this positive momentum.”

The 23-race 2021 Formula 1 season is scheduled to begin March 28 with the Bahrain Grand Prix.

Kyle Larson wins third consecutive High Limit Sprint race at Eagle Raceway, Rico Abreu second again

Larson High Limit Eagle
High Limit Racing - Twitter

It took four attempts for Kyle Larson to win his first High Limit Sprint Car Series race in the series he co-owns with brother-in-law Brad Sweet, but once he found victory lane, he has been undefeated with his win at Eagle (Nebraska) Raceway. For the second week, Abreu led early only to fall prey to Larson.

The win was Larson’s third straight victory and the fifth consecutive top-five, giving him a perfect sweep of the season after finishing 10th in last year’s inaugural race at Lincoln Park Speedway in Putnamville, Indiana.

Larson started third behind Abreu and Brent Marks but was embroiled in a fierce battle with Anthony Macri for third during the first dozen laps. Larson slipped by Macri in traffic until a red flag waved for a flip by Lachlan McHugh.

Meanwhile at the front of the pack, Marks retook the lead from Abreu on Lap 18. Larson followed one lap later and then caution waved again. Tyler Courtney lost power and fell to 24th after starting eighth.

Marks scooted away on the restart but tragedy struck in Lap 26. Leading the race, Marks hit a pothole in Turn 1, bicycled and then flipped, handing the lead to Larson.

Abreu caught Larson again during the final laps and in a reprise of their battle at Tri-City Speedway, the two threw sliders at one another for several laps until Larson built some separation and ran away to the checkers.

“I didn’t feel like my pace in [Turns] 1 & 2 slowed down a ton,” Larson said from victory lane. “I missed it once there and then I saw his nose in 3 & 4. I didn’t know if he nailed the bottom that well behind me and I think he might have slid me in the next corner, so he was definitely on the top.

“I was nervous to move up there because my car was really pogoing up in the entry of 1. I got up just in time, made a few mistakes and he threw a couple more sliders at me but he was just a little too far back and I was able to squirt around him. Then I really had to commit to hitting my marks – back my effort down a bit to avoid mistakes.”

After leading early, Abreu fell back as far as sixth, but faith in his car kept hope alive.

“I just needed to do a few things a few laps before I did and fix some angles, then my car got a whole lot better,” Abreu said. “I’m thankful for this team; they do an amazing job. They don’t give up on me. I know my car is going to be there right at the end of these races, so it’s just the discipline of being patient.”

For Abreu, it was his third near-miss this season. He was leading at Lakeside in the 2023 opener until a tire went flat in the closing laps and he lost the lead to Larson late in the Tri-City Speedway race. Abreu has finished sixth or better in his last three High Limit races with each result being progressively better until his pair of runner-up results.

Third-place finisher Scelzi was the hard charger, advancing from 17th.

“I had a very specific plan; don’t go near [the hole in Turn 1],” Scelzi said. “It worked out. No one wanted to start on the top. I think I gained a couple of rows there on the choose cone and ran the middle, which seemed to be better than right around the bottom.”

Michael “Buddy” Kofoid in fourth and Macri rounded out the top five.

World of Outlaws star and former NASCAR driver Kasey Kahne was one of 41 entrants, but he was not among the 26 starters. He failed to advance to the Main after finishing eighth in the B Main and seventh in his heat.

Feature Results

A Feature (40 Laps): 1. 57-Kyle Larson[4]; 2. 24-Rico Abreu[1]; 3. 18-Giovanni Scelzi[17]; 4. 71-Michael Kofoid[5]; 5. 39M-Anthony Macri[3]; 6. 9-Chase Randall[9]; 7. 26-Zeb Wise[14]; 8. 1X-Jake Bubak[15]; 9. 8-Aaron Reutzel[10]; 10. 14D-Corey Day[18]; 11. 11-Cory Eliason[12]; 12. 5T-Ryan Timms[11]; 13. 88-Austin McCarl[13]; 14. 21H-Brady Bacon[22]; 15. 48-Danny Dietrich[16]; 16. 7S-Robbie Price[19]; 17. 21-Brian Brown[23]; 18. 22-Riley Goodno[26]; 19. 52-Blake Hahn[25]; 20. 15H-Sam Hafertepe Jr[21]; 21. 3J-Dusty Zomer[6]; 22. 14-Cole Macedo[7]; 23. 19-Brent Marks[2]; 24. 7BC-Tyler Courtney[8]; 25. 25-Lachlan McHugh[20]; 26. 53-Jack Dover[24]

2023 High Limit Sprint Car Series

Race 1: Giovanni Scelzi wins at Lakeside Speedway
Race2: Anthony Macri wins at 34 Raceway
Race 3: Kyle Larson wins at Wayne County Speedway
Race 4: Kyle Larson wins at Tri-City Speedway