NORRIS GETS MAIDEN F3 SEASON OFF TO FLYING START ON HOME SOIL
Lando Norris got his first full season in the FIA Formula 3 European Championship off to a flying start on “home” soil at Silverstone over Easter (13-16 April). The 17-year-old placed his Carlin-entered Dallara-Volkswagen first, ninth and third in the opening three races of the series and heads to the next event in Italy later this month lying third in the overall driver standings and first in the Rookie rankings.
Norris began the opening race on Friday afternoon from pole-position, the McLaren-Honda Young Driver’s maiden F3 ‘pole’ but from behind the Safety Car as light rain began to fall. Two further Safety Car interventions ensued to recover cars that had spun on the greasy track despite the rain having stopped. Lando, however, drove a superbly composed and mature race to win comfortably by almost two seconds having led every lap, breaking the two-year-old lap record four times during the 16-lap race.
Lando completed the first lap of Race 2 in eighth place, his “slick” rear tyres spinning massively when starting from the wet side of the track due to overnight rain. He moved up to seventh at mid-distance, having hassled Joey Mawson from lap one, and although immediately reduced the large gap to Mick Schumacher, forcing his way alongside on numerous occasions, Lando could not complete the overtake. Indeed, in attempting to get ahead on the penultimate lap combined with his tyres losing their optimum grip, Norris lost momentum and dropped two places, taking the chequered flag an unrepresentative ninth overall – third in the “Rookie” category.
The F3 grid lined-up in bight and dry weather conditions for the final race on Sunday morning, Norris once again starting from the outside of the front row. This time the BRDC SuperStar got away better but nevertheless dropped down to fifth at the first corner – completing lap one in fourth. The 2016 McLaren Autosport BRDC Award winner immediately challenged for third-place and moved ahead of Max Günther on the sixth lap. Lando reduced the 2.2secs gap to second-placed Joel Eriksson to under a second inside the next five laps but was unable to find a way past – Norris winning the Rookie division for the second time at Silverstone.
Lando is quickly back in action with rounds 4, 5 & 6 of the championship staged at Monza in Italy over 29-30 April. Norris won Formula Renault 2.0 Northern European Cup and EuroCup races at the ultra-fast 3.6-mile Autodromo Nazionale Monza track last year.
Lando Norris (GB): Born: Bristol, England. Aged 17.
“Winning the opening race was a dream start to the season while claiming third in the final race made it a good, solid opening event for me. Much of it is down to Carlin – they’ve done an awesome job over the winter – but we’ve all worked hard for these results. The car was fairly good in the practice sessions on Thursday but after small changes, the balance felt much better in the opening qualifying late that day. I had no ‘traffic’ for a handful of laps, got myself into a good rhythm allowing me to bag pole.
“The early laps in the slippery conditions were difficult as could be seen with the many incidents. I concentrated on getting temperature into the tyres but pushed hard to get a gap which was twice cancelled out due to the Safety Car periods. Despite qualifying for races 2 and 3 on the front row, I should have done better, I didn’t get the best out of the car. In Race 2 from the inside of the front row on Saturday, I had massive wheel spin at the start as the track was still wet off line. I was stuck behind [Joey] Mawson for a long time and running close behind meant that my tyres had lost grip when I came to challenge [Mick] Schumacher. Saturday’s race was very disappointing. In the final race today, I got too much wheel spin, bogged down and lost places. I overtook [Max] Günther and pushed hard but couldn’t do much about [Joel] Eriksson in second. I like Monza, it’s a low-downforce track and I’ll need to make the most of the official test day earlier in the race week but I’m expecting three more very close races.”