Lando Norris produced a wet-weather masterclass in Hungary which resulted in Britain’s McLaren F1 Test & Reserve driver recording his seventh FIA Formula 2 Championship podium finish of the season.
In today’s Sprint race at the Hungaroring, Norris brought his Carlin Dallara home fourth and goes into the four-week series break 12-points behind the championship leader – the BRDC SuperStar having now impressively finished 14 of the season’s 16 races in point-scoring positions.
The 2.72-mile Hungaroring track was wet for yesterday’s Feature Race, heavy rain that included thunder and lightning, having effected F1 qualifying moments earlier. Light drizzle continued to fall as Norris lined-up on the third row, the 20-car field – all on wet weather tyres – reverting to conventional starts this weekend following new clutch and throttle mapping adopted since the last Silverstone event. Norris, having dropped to 10th, reigned supreme on the treacherously slippery track with a series of fastest race laps at times over three seconds quicker than his rivals which saw him snatch the lead on lap 10 following a succession of breath-taking overtakes. He brilliantly opened up a 14secs lead before pitting for slicks with 16-laps completed. But with only eight-laps remaining, Norris was forced to relinquish the lead due to front tyre problems caused by a mechanical issue and a broken front wing, Lando taking the chequered flag in second place.
But 24 hours later, Lando was able to show his true pace and what could have been in Race 1. He started the 28-lap Sprint race seventh with tyre degradation management in the scorching temperatures, a major challenge around the Hungaroring with its mix of low to high-speed corners and lack of a long straight to cool the rubber. Norris moved up to sixth on the third lap and was at the back of a three-car duel for fourth with 10-laps remaining. He sensationally overtook both cars in one move on lap 21 and was the fastest car on track in the closing stages as he attempted to bring down a 4.6secs deficit to team-mate Sergio Sette Camara in third place. Ultimately he just missed out on another podium having been as close as one second. Norris will drive a McLaren Renault MCL33 next week at the Hungaroring (31 Jul-1 Aug) with the next rounds of the F2 series at Spa-Francorchamps in Belgium (27-29 Aug).
“It’s been a good weekend, could have been made better with a win yesterday, but with George [Russell] having a bad one, I’ve reduced his championship lead with two strong results. From a Carlin perspective, qualifying was very good, possibly the best of the season with Sergio getting pole and me sixth fastest. I improved my time on the second run but I’d pushed too hard in the first two sectors and the tyres, which were good for only one real push lap, got too hot and dropped off. I had too much wheel spin at the start of the Feature race dropped places while the visibility was very bad. I started to push after a few laps, took the lead and pitted for slicks with a good gap. For the first few laps on slicks, things weren’t too bad but I quickly lost masses of front-end grip and just about managed to retain second place in the closing laps. Fourth today was about the best I could have hoped for and it’s additionally satisfying as I had to work hard for it.”