British driver Lando Norris says his confidence is at an all-time high after his drive to fifth in Portugal continued a fine start to the new season.
Only Lewis Hamilton and Max Verstappen sit ahead of Norris, 21, in the championship following the opening three rounds.
Now in his third season, the young McLaren driver is starting to come of age, displaying an impressive level of consistency which has left new team-mate Daniel Ricciardo, a seven-time grand prix winner, firmly in his shadow.
Fresh from his second career podium in Imola a fortnight ago, Norris started seventh in Portimao but fought his way past Alpine’s Esteban Ocon on the opening lap, and then the Ferrari of Carlos Sainz and Red Bull’s Sergio Perez at the restart to move into fourth.
Perez eventually powered past Norris in his superior Red Bull machinery, but that could not take the gloss off another mature showing from the Englishman.
“I feel as confident as I have ever been,” said Norris. “I feel like I am doing a good job, and I feel like we are doing a good job as a team and the hard work is paying off.
“More weekends like this would be lovely, but they are difficult even if they look easy from the outside.”
Ricciardo fought back from 16th on the grid to finish ninth, but Norris will head to Spain 21 points clear of his more experienced team-mate in the standings. He is also five points ahead of Mercedes driver Valtteri Bottas.
“Lando completed another excellent weekend with a very strong drive to finish fifth,” said McLaren team principal Andreas Seidl. “Daniel scored another two important points for himself and for the team in the constructors’ championship.
“This result strengthened our hold on third position, which is obviously very encouraging.”