Who is Lando Norris, F1’s newest grand prix winner?

The McLaren driver crossed the line 7.6 seconds clear of the all-conquering Max Verstappen, converting a strategy in which he went long on the medium-compound tyres and pouncing on a safety car to cycle out ahead of the three-time world champion.

Dispelling the disappointment of his 2021 near-miss at the Russian Grand Prix in Sochi, Norris’ victory appeared to be a popular one among the rest of the grid — and the Briton received much in the way of congratulations from his adversaries as he completed arguably his most memorable saunter into parc ferme.

PLUS: The factors that mean Norris’ Miami win can’t be cast as a safety car fluke

«I’ve always had respect for everyone I race against, from the top to the bottom of every category that I’ve gone through since karting,» Norris said. «I’ve always had respect for my competitors and the people I raced against. And I’ve always said that. So as much as when you put the helmet on you hate them, and you want to beat them, and you don’t care who’s who, I’ve always had respect for the people I’ve raced against. 

«So when anyone comes up [to me], especially people who have achieved a lot, because it always means a little bit more. So when Lewis, Fernando, Max, Charles, Carlos, whenever they come up to you or people have good words for you, I appreciate those things a lot. Because from these people, it means something. They’re the people who know what it takes to achieve these types of things, for the work, the time, the effort that goes into doing something like this.»

Fernando Alonso, Aston Martin F1 Team, embraces Lando Norris, McLaren F1 Team, 1st position, to congratulate him on his race win

Fernando Alonso, Aston Martin F1 Team, embraces Lando Norris, McLaren F1 Team, 1st position, to congratulate him on his race win

Photo by: Steven Tee / Motorsport Images

Born in the port city of Bristol, situated between the mouth of the River Avon and River Severn, Norris is in his sixth season of racing in F1 for McLaren — with whom he shares a lengthy association. The Woking outfit signed Norris to its young driver squad at the start of 2017, ahead of his sole season in the now-defunct FIA Formula 3 European Championship.

Contrary to popular belief, Norris was not — he says — named after Star Wars character Lando Calrissian. Half-Belgian thanks to his mother Cisca, Norris nonetheless races under the British flag and grew up in the Somerset town of Glastonbury, known for its yearly music festival held in nearby Pilton. This allowed him to become a day-boarder at Millfield, a private school known for its contribution to sports — and where fellow racing driver Sam Bird was also educated. 

Initially not interested in racing, Norris started watching F1 with his father Adam — a Bristol-based businessman — and started to develop a keenness for it. After his victory in Miami, Norris paid tribute to his family for its support throughout his racing career — and to his grandmother over the team radio.

«I spoke to my mum and my dad already, which is always nice. Normally my dad comes to the races, but not today, so I’m sure he’s regretting that just a little bit. My parents have been so supportive. You know, they’re the ones who are with you from the start. They allowed everything to happen. They’re the ones that got me into racing, supported me, and allowed me to get to Formula 1, reach my dream, and do what I’ve loved to do since I was a kid. 

«And I’m very fortunate for everything that they’ve done and the position they’ve allowed me to be in. You think of those moments, and therefore, of course, I want to speak to my mum and dad, first of all, because you shared all those moments with them. And I just say a big thanks. And for my grandma, because she’s not been so well lately. I saw her last week, and I told her that I was going to win a race. I didn’t say when. I just said I was going to win a race. And I didn’t think it would be coming this soon. So I’m just very happy that I was able to do it as quickly as I did.»

Lando Norris, McLaren F1 Team, 1st position, kisses the winners trophy

Lando Norris, McLaren F1 Team, 1st position, kisses the winners trophy

Photo by: Zak Mauger / Motorsport Images

Also exposed to racing through the Gran Turismo video game series, Norris had the racing bug truly sinking its teeth into him when he was taken along with his brother Ollie to watch the karting British Championships at Clay Pigeon, the karting course near Dorchester where Jenson Button first started to race. 

«Me being me, I wanted to have a go!,» Norris told the Formula 2 website in 2018. «Soon after, I got a Bambino go-kart to drive around at home, and it started there…»

Norris picked up karting and, by 2013, he was competing on a global stage. There, he won the Junior class of the CIK-FIA European Championship — the same year Max Verstappen won the higher KF2 category — and went on to take victory in the CIK-FIA World Championship in 2014.

What is Norris’ junior racing record?

Alongside his Karting World Championship efforts, Norris started competing in the Ginetta Juniors Championship, a series on the support package of the British Touring Car Championship. At the age of 14 Norris was now exposed to a UK TV audience and behind the wheel of a Ginetta G40 in a full circuit race for the first time. Initially, Norris was only supposed to take part in the second half of the season, but ended up competing in the full championship — where he finished third behind future GT racers Jack Mitchell and James Kellett.

Norris moved to another of the BTCC’s undercard events in 2015: MSA Formula — built from the ashes of the defunct British Formula Ford Championship as the FIA rolled out its Formula 4 class worldwide. This was the first time Norris drove for Carlin, and he beat Ricky Collard and Colton Herta to the title to earn a move to the Formula Renault 2.0 championship.

Lando Norris

Lando Norris

Photo by: Daniel James Smith

His campaign there was preceded by the New Zealand-based Toyota Racing Series in the spring of 2016, which Norris won convincingly over former karting rival Jehan Daruvala. Titles in Formula Renault 2.0’s Eurocup and NEC championships followed, driving for Josef Kaufmann’s team, prior to his reunion with Carlin for a stab at the 2017 Formula 3 European Championship.

Having marked himself as a star of the future with his sweep of championship wins, Norris was signed to the McLaren Young Driver programme, which was one of new CEO Zak Brown’s first points of business after taking over at McLaren. Against stern competition from second-year driver Joel Eriksson and third-year racer Maximilian Guenther, Norris chalked up nine victories to claim another title with two races to spare — naturally winning the rookies’ championship in the process.

Lando Norris, Carlin Dallara F317 - Volkswagen

Lando Norris, Carlin Dallara F317 — Volkswagen

Photo by: FIA F3 / Suer

This elevated Norris into Formula 2, which had introduced its new F2 2018 chassis. Carlin had left the series, then known as GP2, at the end of 2016 but had re-entered the championship a year later, Norris being partnered by Sergio Sette Camara at the British squad. A one-off for Campos at the end of 2017 gave Norris a taster of what to expect, and the Briton continued to deliver in the early tests to mark himself out as a championship contender. Ahead of his first full year in F2, Norris competed in the Daytona 24 Hours alongside Fernando Alonso and Philip Hanson for United Autosports — the endurance racing team owned by Brown.

Considered as one of the best seasons of F2 thanks to its depth of talent, 2018 was contested by Norris, who won the Bahrain opener, ART’s George Russell, and Anglo-Thai driver Alex Albon — who converted a race-by-race deal with DAMS into a full season thanks to a strong start to the championship.

Despite opening strongly in securing the feature race victory in the Bahrain season opener (his last victory in any category before his Miami GP win) Norris did not reach the top step again in 2018 and retained his position in the championship hunt through consistency — although a puncture in the rain-affected Sochi round ended his championship hopes before the field diverted to its Yas Marina finale. Russell claimed the crown when Albon was taken out in a start-line incident following a stall, a frequent feature of the 2018 F2 car owing to a series of clutch issues. 

Lando Norris, Carlin

Lando Norris, Carlin

Photo by: Zak Mauger / Motorsport Images

Regardless, Norris impressed sufficiently in F2 and in a series of FP1 sessions for McLaren to earn a step up to F1 in 2019 — replacing Stoffel Vandoorne at the team.

How has Norris performed in F1?

Norris was partnered by Carlos Sainz in 2019, the Spaniard signed to replace compatriot Fernando Alonso in the latter’s first retirement from F1. The two quickly formed a firm friendship, and combined to help McLaren move back up the grid after a series of lean years with Honda powertrains and problematic cars.

In his first F1 race at Albert Park, Norris qualified eighth and finished 12th, and followed that up with his first points through finishing sixth in Bahrain. He amassed 49 points in his maiden season as McLaren made great strides forward with its MCL34, almost half of Sainz’s tally that year. His second season proved more felicitous despite the impact of COVID, and he claimed a maiden podium at the Red Bull Ring opener. This time, he finished just eight points behind Sainz, ahead of the Madrid-born driver’s move to Ferrari in 2021.

Charles Leclerc, Ferrari, Valtteri Bottas, Mercedes AMG F1, and Lando Norris, McLaren, celebrate on the podium after the race

Charles Leclerc, Ferrari, Valtteri Bottas, Mercedes AMG F1, and Lando Norris, McLaren, celebrate on the podium after the race

Photo by: Steve Etherington / Motorsport Images

Contracted at McLaren for a third season, Norris was partnered with Daniel Ricciardo for 2021 — which was billed as his most serious test in F1 given the Australian was still highly rated at the time. However, Norris outperformed the ex-Red Bull driver and claimed all but one of the team’s five podium finishes — albeit the one that would have likely stung the most. In a zany Italian Grand Prix where title adversaries Max Verstappen and Lewis Hamilton crashed at the chicane, Ricciardo assumed the lead — and Norris directed to play rear gunner against the chasing Valtteri Bottas. McLaren thus secured its first 1-2 finish since the 2010 Canadian Grand Prix.

Norris had his own opportunity to win at the next race at Sochi, and took his first pole from Sainz. Although the Ferrari driver snatched the lead at the start, Norris reclaimed it on the 13th lap and managed the race well — keeping Lewis Hamilton at bay until rain started to fall. Hamilton took the opportunity to pit for intermediates while Norris, anticipating a short shower, elected to stay out. That call proved to be hubristic, and he lost a lot of time to Hamilton while struggling on the slicks — and eventually aquaplaned off the circuit to throw away a shot at victory.

Lando Norris, McLaren, comiserates with himself after the race

Lando Norris, McLaren, commiserates with himself after the race

Photo by: Andy Hone / Motorsport Images

Although Norris committed his long-term future to McLaren, its first foray into the ground-effect regulations mandated for 2022 was not entirely successful and he managed just one podium finish all year — at the Emilia-Romagna Grand Prix at Imola. 2023 started out even more disastrously, with just 12 points scored in the opening eight races, but Norris benefitted from a vastly improved car at the Austria round to ignite a season where he claimed seven grand prix podiums. His first victory had to wait once more when Oscar Piastri won out in the Qatar sprint.

That brings us to 2024, and Norris’ best career start to an F1 championship season with three podiums — including his Miami Grand Prix victory. After walking away from China with second place, Norris had the unwanted record of holding the most podiums — 15 — without a win. This record now returns to Nick Heidfeld.

Podium: race winner David Coulthard, McLaren, second place Michael Schumacher, Ferrari, third place Nick Heidfeld, Sauber

Podium: race winner David Coulthard, McLaren, second place Michael Schumacher, Ferrari, third place Nick Heidfeld, Sauber

Photo by: Motorsport Images

How does Norris approach racing in F1?

In speaking to the media, Norris has often exhibited a self-deprecative and cautious approach when discussing his chances. Even after good results, it appears he is a natural pessimist — and instead draws attention to his own weaknesses rather than opting for self-aggrandisement. Speaking about this after his Miami win, Norris stated that this is a source of motivation.

«I have my times when I’m happy with what I’m able to go out and do. I’m just one of those guys that I’m not happy when I know I’ve not done the job I’m capable of doing,» he said. And [this win] shows what I’m capable of doing. I think all year I’ve done a very good job. And I’ve worked hard and I’ve eliminated and got rid of a lot of my weaknesses.

«I’m still going to be that guy. I don’t think that’s going to change. That’s what works for me. That’s my mindset. Everyone has their own way of doing things, their own approach, their own way that they talk to themselves and think of: how can I approach today? How can I go out and do the best job? For me, it’s talking down at myself and kind of putting myself down because for me that’s what works and I’m fine with that. 

«I don’t need other people to be happy with it and for other people to agree with it. It’s what’s best for me, and what works best is what’s made me who I am and I think that’s my best way of going forward. So I’m going to have my days when the glass is full and I can be happy and I’m proud of myself. Everyone’s going to have those days and everyone should have those days. But in order to make myself the best man, the best driver, I have my way of doing things and I stick to that.»

Lando Norris, McLaren F1 Team, 1st position, lifts the trophy in celebration on the podium

Lando Norris, McLaren F1 Team, 1st position, lifts the trophy in celebration on the podium

Photo by: Sam Bloxham / Motorsport Images

What does Norris do outside of racing — and what’s next in F1?

In 2020, Norris set up Quadrant — a company that focuses on «racing, gaming, clothing and content» with multiple streamers, and has since received investment from YouTuber Will Lenney. Much of the company’s involvement expands into Esports and the sale of clothing, but it will expand into an athlete support programme.

He has also cultivated a following through streaming on Twitch, which he has also used for charitable endeavours — raising money for COVID response funds and mental health charity Mind. He also plays golf, playing in various Pro-Am tournaments — notably the Netflix Cup held ahead of the Las Vegas Grand Prix in 2023.

Norris has a long-term contract with McLaren, which spans until the end of the 2027 season. It is known that he has held talks with Red Bull previously on more than one occasion, but has ultimately committed to McLaren following them. 

McLaren has committed to Mercedes power for the incoming powertrain regulatory overhaul in 2026, with a deal that extends to 2030. 

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