Lando Norris – Britain’s next F1 Champion?
Could Lando Norris keep this momentum all the way to the very top?
McLaren is a team which is able to scout out some of the finest talents in motorsport.
It took a punt with Mika Hakkinen in the 1990s, another one with the inexperienced Kimi Raikkonen in 2002, before bringing in talent it raised itself. First came Lewis Hamilton in 2007, who has gone on to become one of the most successful Formula 1 drivers of all time. In more recent years, Kevin Magnussen and Stoffel Vandoorne – the latter starting to out-perform the great Fernando Alonso in the McLaren, have risen through the ranks with help from the team. The next young talent to come from that programme, and almost certainly Britain’s next new world champion, is Lando Norris.
Teenage sensation Norris is on course to win the European Formula 3 championship by a comfortable margin in his rookie season. Should he accomplish this, he will become the first rookie to do so since Esteban Ocon (now impressing with Force India) in 2014 (where he shared the grid with none other than Max Verstappen). This would be a remarkable achievement, more-so when you take into account that Norris is not with the all-conquering Prema team which has stormed to every teams’ and drivers’ championship since the series came to be in 2012.
F3 has had a very strong field for the past few years now. Lance Stroll, now with Williams, is the current F3 champion. 2015 champion Felix Rosenqvist has not quite made it to F1, but is among the strongest young drivers outside of it.
An idea of how good Norris is came around in the wet at the most recent F3 round at the Nurburgring in Germany. On a wet track, the series rookie pulled away by a second per lap over the rest of his opposition, and cruised to a dominant win. That is the sort of performance which Verstappen put in back in 2014, which ultimately led him to joining Red Bull’s driver programme and F1 shortly after.
Norris also impressed on his first appearance in a F1 mid-season test alongside some of the regular drivers. His lap time at the Hungaroring was faster than all of the drivers on that day, except for four-time champion Sebastian Vettel.
The 17-year-old already has four championships under his belt. Three of those came in an intense year which included two full Formula Renault campaigns, and a Toyota Racing Series season. Norris won all three at the first attempt. In addition, he won the MSA Formula season in the UK the year before in his first season in single seaters.
A meteoric jump to F1 for 2018 appears off the cards, but Norris’s chance to shine at the highest level of motorsport is not far away. A switch to Formula 2 is the likely step for next year, where he will try to emulate the type of performances dominant leader Charles Leclerc has put in.
Should he deliver there, then it seems likely that Norris will be in F1 perhaps for 2019.
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