Lando Norris moved up to second place in the overall standings of the FIA Formula 3 European Championship after this weekend’s latest three races in Italy (29-30 Apr) – while remaining the clear leader in the Rookie Division. The McLaren-Honda Young Driver finished first plus second twice at the wheel of his Carlin-entered Dallara-Volkswagen at Monza and heads to the next event in France just one-point off the outright series lead.
Having topped the times in both official tests staged in abysmally wet conditions earlier in the week, Norris kept up his 100% record of starting all six of this season’s races from the front row of the grid, deprived of pole-position by a mere 0.030secs, 0.066s and 0.069s for rounds 4, 5 and 6 respectively in qualifying this weekend.
The 17-year-old was slow away at the green light in Saturday’s opening race and entered the first chicane fifth. But an impressive charge saw the 2016 McLaren Autosport BRDC Award winner slipstream his was through in to the lead at the beginning of lap 16 – four laps from home – having set a series of fastest race laps.
Norris, who had won Formula Renault 2.0 Northern European Cup and Eurocup races at the ultra-fast 3.6-mile Autodromo Nazionale Monza track last year, began the second race on Sunday morning the joint leader of the overall championship along with Joel Eriksson who started from “pole".
Lando, the only one of the top-eight starters use two “old” tyres, placed fourth at the end of the opening lap after a sluggish get-away but was into second by the sixth lap, Norris reducing a gap of over three seconds to leader and ultimate winner Eriksson to 0.735secs at the chequered flag. The third and final race again saw Norris start from the front row and complete the opening lap in third. The former karting world champion was up to second place on the fifth lap – 1.9secs behind leader Callum Ilott – reducing the gap to 0.736secs by the finish.
The next three races are staged at Pau over 20-21 May. The BRDC SuperStar will be making his début at the 1.71-mile “street” circuit.
"Overall it’s been a very positive weekend. I’ve been strong all week here at Monza and that’s thanks to Carlin. Another three front row starts, a win plus two seconds is extremely pleasing and good in terms of points for the championship."
"Qualifying for Race 1 on Friday was a fight as to who could get the best tow while jostling for position. When the Red Flag came out I was P14 but in the final seven minutes, I pushed as hard as I could, behind Callum [Ilott]. I made mistakes on my first two laps but things went better by the third and final lap to get onto the front row. In the race, I didn’t make the best of starts, dropped briefly down to fifth, but kept my head down and picked off the cars in front of me. It was a great Carlin performance with a podium lock-out.“
"Qualifying 2 on Saturday afternoon was difficult in so much as I spent much of the session behind a gaggle of cars. I managed just two laps pushing because each time my lap was compromised by a car dropping back and slowing me. On Sunday morning, my start wasn’t great again, dropping to fourth, which is making life hard for me [in the races] so all in all I’m happy with second place. My third start was better but not great which made things tougher than necessary again and this is something I’ll be working on before the next races.”