Lando Norris: top five F1 highlights at 100 races20 October 2023
In the 2023 season, Lando Norris has hit a rich vein of form not yet seen in the young British driver’s career. With the resurgent McLaren team seemingly the only regular challengers to the indomitable Red Bull of Max Verstappen in the latter part of the championship, Norris seems tantalisingly close to that coveted first F1 victory.
In his first 100 races in the sport, Norris has come close to that all-important landmark result at several Grand Prix, but circumstance has played against him on more than one occasion. From that infamous downpour in Russia to leading the opening laps of his home race, here are five of Norris’ best F1 moments to date.
2020 Austrian Grand Prix: a maiden podium
In the very first race of his second season in F1, Norris seemed destined for his first podium. Starting from third on the grid, he challenged Max Verstappen into Turn 1 and then again at Turn 3 and Turn 4 to no avail. In the opening 10 laps, he was shuffled back to fifth by Alexander Albon and Lewis Hamilton, but a retiring Verstappen handed fourth position back to the McLaren on Lap 11.
Norris held position until Lap 33 when Sergio Perez made his way past into fourth. The race restarted on Lap 61 after two Safety Car periods, with Norris still occupying fifth position, only now with a fresh set of Medium tyres. After a collision with Hamilton, Albon was left in the gravel promoting Norris to fourth, but shortly after Leclerc relegated him to fifth once again. With just three laps to go, Norris got back past the Racing Point of Perez to retake fourth and with a five-second penalty applied to Hamilton’s race time, claimed his first-ever F1 podium in fine fashion.
2021 Italian Grand Prix: a McLaren 1-2 at Monza
Having recorded three third-place finishes in the 2021 season so far, Lando and McLaren arrived at Monza eying victory. After converting fourth on the grid of that weekend’s Sprint Race into fourth at the flag, Lando was promoted to third on the Grand Prix grid when Sprint winner Bottas was allocated a grid penalty.
From third, Norris looked to threaten Verstappen into Turn 1 but ended up losing out to Hamilton, a position he promptly regained later that lap. The battle of the Brits raged for the duration of the first stint and on Lap 24, the Mercedes finally got the better of the McLaren. Just two laps later, a slow pitstop for Hamilton put him on a collision course with the similarly slow-stopping Verstappen which ultimately ended in disaster for the title protagonists. Norris occupied third during the ensuing Safety Car period and seized the opportunity to snatch second from Leclerc at the restart. From that point on, he followed team mate Daniel Ricciardo closely but held position to secure McLaren’s first 1-2 since the Canadian Grand Prix in 2010.
2021 Russian Grand Prix: first pole and battle for the win in treacherous conditionsIn a rain-affected qualifying session, Norris’ papaya car loomed at the sharp end throughout. He was fifth fastest in Q1 and went one better in Q2 with fourth. The first Intermediate tyre runs of Q3 saw him running second fastest but it was when the Soft tyres were bolted on that the McLaren really came alive. Setting a purple middle and final sector en route, Norris crossed the line to beat Carlos Sainz to pole position by over half a second.
Launching from pole, Norris surged into an early lead but, such is the lengthy run down to Turn 1 that Sainz managed to pull alongside and swoop round the outside to take the lead. Through the first 10 laps, Norris kept a watchful eye on his ex-team mate and on Lap 13, he made a decisive lunge on the inside of Turn 12 to retake the lead.
Having built a margin, Norris pitted on Lap 28 and remerged in fourth with fresh Hard tyres onboard. By Lap 47, Norris was back into the lead, but Hamilton had closed to under a second and with rain in the air, the tension rose to levels unseen in Lando’s career thus far. With four laps to go, Hamilton opted to pit for Intermediates and with superior grip on the damp circuit, passed Norris as he slipped and spun off the track. He eventually finished seventh but was a serious contender for the victory for the second race in succession.
2023 British Grand Prix: leading in front of the home crowd at Silverstone
The first eight races of the 2023 season were not events the Woking-based team will remember fondly. Their early backmarker pace was transformed though, at the Austrian Grand Prix and that renewed form carried over to the team’s home event one week later. Norris qualified an excellent second to start from the front row in front of the home crowd.
With a superior launch, the Brit got alongside Verstappen on the run down to Turn 1 and claimed the lead for his own to the delight of the Silverstone fans. He held on valiantly for five laps but the unstoppable force that is Verstappen in 2023 retook the lead on the run down to Brooklands. Following a mid-race Safety Car, Hamilton was brought into play and pressured Norris throughout the race’s latter stages, but he held on to take a popular podium in front of a sell-out home crowd.
2023 Singapore, Japanese and Qatar Grand Prix: back-to-back-to-back podiums
Following an initial double second-place finish at the British and Hungarian Grand Prix earlier in the season, Norris’ form hit new heights in the flyaway events. The first of which was the gruelling Singapore Grand Prix in which he battled with Hamilton and Russell early on, before gratefully accepting some DRS assistance from race leader Carlos Sainz to fend off the charging Mercedes cars and take second position.
The Japanese Grand Prix a week later would yield the same result for Norris in much more straightforward circumstances. Launching from third, he nipped past team mate Oscar Piastri into Turn 1, but the positions soon swapped again thanks to a well-timed stop for the Australian. With superior pace, Norris was quickly released from behind his team mate to chase after the Mercedes ahead. He did just that and eventually secured his second successive second-place finish.
Then came the Qatar Grand Prix, where the McLarens arguably looked closer than ever to the pace of Verstappen. A poor start in the Sprint cost him the opportunity to fight for victory whilse a mistake in qualifying left Norris starting in the midfield. Still, he recovered well in a physically challenging race to take yet another Grand Prix podium finish in third.