Lando Norris will head to the final two FIA Formula 2 Championship races in Abu Dhabi in November in “max attack” mode despite now being out of title contention.
The 2019 McLaren F1 driver disappointingly posted two retirements in the latest races at the Sochi Autodrom in Russia this weekend (29-30 Sep) – the first time he has failed to score over a race weekend this season. Lando drops a place to third in the standings, now 51-points to the series leader with only 48pts on offer in Abu Dhabi, with Lando aiming to sign-off from the F2 category in winning style.
Norris took part in Friday’s F1 Free Practice for a third time this year, recording the best McLaren time in 13th place and clocking up 25-laps in the 90mins session before setting the fastest time in F2’s Free Practice. He later secured a fourth front row Feature race start of the season but a sluggish get-away saw Lando complete the opening lap in fifth. He ran wide and dropped to eighth with four laps run, pitting two laps later but retired when a front right wheel rim was damaged due to a misunderstanding at the pit-stop. It marked his first retirement in the 21st race of the season such has been the Carlin driver’s amazing consistency having finished 18 races in the points – more than any other driver.
Starting 18th in today’s 21-lap Sprint race around the 3.63-mile track situated in the 2014 Winter Olympics complex adjacent to the Black Sea, Norris completed lap one 17th under Safety Car conditions after an on-track incident. He made up two places on the re-start lap and lay 12th, less than one second off the top-10, before pitting on lap 11 to serve a 10secs stop-go penalty for lining up incorrectly on the formation lap. Norris resumed 17th at the tail of the field as rain began to fall, Lando pitting for “wets” on lap 13 but retired five laps from the finish with a puncture after contact with another car, the driver later penalised, with the track drying. The BRDC SuperStar contests the final two races of this year’s F2 series in Abu Dhabi over 24-25 November having made his F2 début in the corresponding event last year.
Lando Norris (GB): Born: Bristol, England. Aged 18.
“It’s been an horrendous weekend on my Sochi début. The championship title has gone for me so I’ll just have some fun in Abu Dhabi and try to get P2 in the standings. I’ll do my very best, won’t give up, work together with Carlin to achieve the best results and hopefully finish the year off with a couple of wins. Everything went well in F1 practice on Friday morning apart from a little spin – all smooth. It was the first time I’d ever used hyper-softs and was good to get a feel. F2 practice followed on quickly from that and result wise it was good going P1. I’ve been pretty bad in qualifying, it’s been my biggest weakness this season, so I was happy with P2. My first run wasn’t bad but the second one George was over a second quicker. I was P3 after the initial run but went back out with just five minutes having dropped to P7. I was warming my tyres when everyone else was on their push laps which was a bit nerve wracking trying not to get in their way but it worked out for me with a front row. I didn’t make a great start in the Feature Race and lost positions but my pace, compared to the guys on the same [tyre] strategy was looking okay despite a lot of [super soft] degradation. I pitted and felt confident for the second part of the race in which we’d specifically set-up the car for but a misunderstanding with a mis-timed release before the front right wheel had been fully tightened caused wheel damage. Today’s race was another bad one. I was penalised for being out of position at the start which got me a 10secs stop-go, then I tried to go around a car on the outside but he understeered into my right rear wheel causing a puncture.”