Lando Norris turned around what had been a miserable event on “home” soil with a highly-impressive fight to record a stunning podium finish in the latest round of the FIA Formula 2 Championship at Silverstone today (7-8 Jul) to remain second in the series standings.
Norris started the 29-lap Feature race yesterday afternoon from a rolling start sixth in line in the 20-car field, Lando having not been confident with the car’s unpredictable handling around the bumpy 3.66-mile Silverstone track in practice and then qualifying the previous day. Lando pitted from a “true” seventh place with seven laps completed but stalled after his tyre change, resuming 20th, the season-long clutch issue once more ruining his race. He battled hard for the remainder of the race, setting the race’s fastest lap at one stage, and was ultimately classified 10th. Interestingly, Norris finished 21secs behind the third-place car – the stall costing Lando almost 30secs.
Today’s 21-lap Sprint race early this morning saw Norris start 10th but gained a place on the opening lap, took eighth on lap seven then seventh before two-thirds distance and sixth on lap 15, contact with another car causing steering damage. The 18-year-old McLaren F1 Test & Reserve driver pressed on regardless and with four-laps remaining, Norris took fifth then moved up to third-place in a brilliant move overtaking two cars around the outside at Vale in a thrilling recovery. The BRDC SuperStar accomplished more overtakes than any other competitor.
The next two rounds of the FIA Formula 2 Championship are staged at the Hungaroring in Budapest over 28-29 July but Lando’s next event is the Goodwood Festival of Speed next week (12-15 Jul). Lando is scheduled to drive Emerson Fittipaldi’s 1974 world championship winning McLaren M23 car up the 1.16-mile hill – a car built 25 years before Lando was born. The McLaren M23 contested 80 grands prix between 1973-78, winning 16 races and three world championships: the 1974 drivers’ with Fittipaldi and constructors’ as well as the 1976 drivers’ title with James Hunt. He will also attend the German Grand Prix to conduct marketing and media activities for McLaren at Hockenheim the following weekend.
“The car’s pace was good enough for a podium in both races so yesterday was particularly disappointing although today’s result made up for it a little . Practice on Friday morning was tough. The track was incredibly bumpy with my car constantly bottoming over the bumps – I cannot remember a track in my career that was as bad. It wasn’t nice because it unsettles the car. You come through a corner and think all is okay then hit a bump mid-corner which sends the car all over the place. We tried to make improvements but qualifying was still a struggle. The tyres got too hot, I had a massive moment exiting Copse. The session then went red and I improved after looking at some data then went quicker again on new tyres. But I wasn’t comfortable, I made too many mistakes and didn’t have any confidence in the car due to its lack of consistency.
“Starting the Feature race sixth, the first few laps weren’t too bad. I tried saving my tyres a touch but made a mistake in Turn 1 and was overtaken and then the car’s persistent clutch problems caused yet another stall when I attempted to pull-away after my pit-stop. That lost me a lot of time because I couldn’t get the car re-started. I had decent pace in the second part of the race but due to the clutch problem, I’d let everyone down as there was good potential which was very annoying. Today’s Sprint race was great fun with good pace. I picked off cars from pretty early on. I was really pushing from a third of the way into the race – maybe I should have gone a little earlier. Some of the overtakes were sweet and in general a pretty good recovery from a 10th start.
“Going to the Festival should be cool and driving the M23 up the hill will be incredible – it’s my all-time favourite McLaren GP car. I look at it and think ‘wow’. I’ve only been to the Festival once before, possibly in 2012, when I was in karts but I’ve never driven up the hill which I’m looking forward to. It’ll be great to see past and present stars in motorsport.”