Lando proves blistering pace of his Carlin charger in FIA European F3 debut

October 2016
Lando Norris
The Hockenheimring set the scene for an electrifying final round of the FIA European Formula 3 championship, the 4.574km long circuit offered a diverse and challenging series of fast and slow corners, the perfect setting for Lando Norris to make his F3 debut. Spurred by the challenge, Lando really made his mark with a promising show of pace.

Arriving back at the scene of his Formula Renault 2.0 NEC title earlier this month, was sure to provide some extra tingles down the spine, as the 16-year-old rookie strapped himself into the Volkswagen-powered charger for the first time. Teaming up with Carlin with whom he clinched the MSA Formula Championship last year, definitely gave an extra boost.

Getting to grips with the car at lightning speed, there were wide grins all round on the pitwall as Lando stormed through the first practice session to top the timing sheets. Proving the outright pace of the Carlin package, together with Lando’s undeniable talent in only his first turn of the wheel in the F3 championship.

Starting from the pitlane…

Having completed test days ahead of next year’s campaign, which is deemed as an advantage under FIA F3 regulations, meant Lando was granted entry to the event under the agreement that he started all races from the pitlane and was ineligible for championship points. Never one to pass up a challenge, Lando closed the visor with determination to show just what he’s capable of, qualifying consistently with two P9's and second fastest time of P4.

Teamwork makes the dream work…

Powering from the pitlane, Lando set about chasing the pack from the word go, lighting up his tyres he made his way to P16 in the first few laps. With the bit between his teeth and confidence in the car beneath him, he saw his chance to follow Beckmann through as he battled against Piquet. Taking the outside line, Piquet swiftly made the cutback, seemingly unaware of Lando beside him, the move clattered the front end of the Brit’s car. Struggling back to the pits, it was evident that the steering column had sustained damage, ending Lando’s race there and then.

In true Carlin style, it was all hands on deck in a prime display of teamwork, to repair the car and prepare for race two. Yet again, Lando charged through the field from the pitlane, rapidly propelling himself to P17 by Lap 4. Holding off competition from behind, the F3 rookie hounded the back of Jensen in the latter stages of the race, soaking up a wealth of experience in his new machinery.

Tactics make perfect practice…

With two rounds of wheel-to-wheel racing behind him and full focus on Macau GP next month, Carlin wisely concentrated on making the most of clean air to test their true pace in Race Three. Without the battles in the field, the clever tactics gave the perfect opportunity to fine tune his race craft and push the car to the limit. Running his own race, Lando powered his Carlin-engineered charger to post the fastest lap of the race on Lap 9 and 10, a blistering time that was only beaten by his team-mate.

“I had 2nd fastest lap after my teammate, also not having any sort of slipstream or anything, from start to finish my times were very competitive. So if there was a chance of starting on the actual grid, I know I would have been to able to achieve a top 5, or even top 3 place”

With an impressive pace and an encouraging team performance, Lando looks ahead to the historic Macau Grand Prix in November:

“Well overall I think it was a very positive weekend. Starting from pitlane never helps, but for my first race and weekend in F3 I think it was pretty good. We showed that the car is very competitive with our results, also earning 1st and 2nd fastest laps in the final race is a good sign of speed that the team and I have. We proved the car is very fast and we can get some very good results with it. So looking forward to Macau."