The remarkable talent of Lando Norris just took the young Carlin driver one step closer to the Formula One grid as he sealed the Euro F3 title with another thrilling performance at Hockenheim yesterday.
Starting in P2, behind Prema Powerteam’s Callum Illot, a poor start from Norris saw the McLaren junior slip down the order, letting through Sweden’s Joel Eriksson to successfully challenge the pole-sitter for the lead. Norris, however, was in no mood to be denied his fifth championship in just three years. A scything drive saw him clash wheels and trade rubber as he clawed his way back into second and finish with the points needed to quash the ambition of rival Max Gunther; the German having to settle for the ‘almost-step’ a second year in succession.
So what makes Norris so special? And why is he destined to become Britain’s next F1 hero? One word; ‘Belief’. He’s a winner, he knows he’s a winner, and everyone around him knows it too. Yet there’s no swagger, not yet. Just a purity to his determination that delivers the type of speed and consistency that top teams demand and thrive off.
Does this mean the Brit will now follow in the footsteps of last year’s Euro F3 champion, Lance Stroll, and line-up next March against his heroes in Melbourne’s Albert Park?
I hope not! I don’t want to see Norris farmed-out to a low-ranking team for the sake of experience. Just look at what’s happened to Pascal Wehrlein: a succession of poor choices by Mercedes seeing the former DTM champion’s spark extinguished and a promising career left in parc ferme. And to be fair, not only do I think that a year in F2 will bring maturity to his game, it’s also going to give him the time to acclimatise to life with McLaren as its reserve driver.
A year under the tutelage of one of the finest racers of our era will be a far better investment for the Woking squad than any amount of time watching for blue flags. And to be honest, who would argue against Alonso and teammate, Stoffel Vandoorne deserving a season racing for podiums as opposed to collecting engine penalties.
I’ve watched Norris since he came into Ginetta Junior from karting. He’s never failed to excite. He’s a racer, a winner and a champion, and there’s a lot more of each still to come.
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