RED-HOT NORRIS EXTENDS CHAMPIONSHIP LEAD IN GREAT STYLE
Lando Norris heads to the penultimate event of this year’s FIA Formula 3 European Championship later this month (23-24 Sep) with a healthy 73-points lead following impressive and often dominant performances this weekend. The McLaren-Honda Young Driver recorded an emphatic win in atrociously wet conditions, a very close second and a further victory in his Carlin prepared Dallara-Volkswagen at the Nürburgring in Germany (8-10 Sep).
A maximum score of 150-points is on offer at the two remaining events at the Red Bull Ring in Austria then the concluding event at Hockenheim (D) next month with Euro F3 “rookie” Lando having now scored double the number of wins (nine), more podiums (18) and more pole-positions (eight) than anyone else in the championship this year. Norris laid the foundations for a successful weekend by getting off to a great start on Friday. Having recorded the fastest time in both Free Practice sessions, Lando then simply blitzed the 21-car opposition in qualifying. For the seventh consecutive race, Norris set the fastest time in the official time trials. This was no ordinary “pole”, however, but a crushing display in difficult, slippery conditions in which he set four lap times good enough for “pole”, eventually setting a lap time 0.907secs clear of the rest. If Friday had been a devastating knock-back for his more experienced title rivals, then they must have felt utterly humiliated after Saturday morning’s Race 1 in which Lando simply reigned supreme. Staged in difficult conditions, on a wet but drying track, he lined-up in pole-position for the eighth time this year, led untroubled from start to finish and took the chequered flag a colossal 17.562secs after 20-laps – despite two Full Course Yellow interventions.
The 20mins qualifying session to set grid positions for Races 2 & 3 was staged late on Saturday afternoon and in torrential rain, earning Norris a third-place start in this morning’s race, the track now dry again for the first time since Friday morning. Lando moved up a place on lap three and duly finished second, a mere 0.5secs behind the winner in the 26-lap race. Norris started from the front row, for the 16th time this year, in Race 3 again staged in dry, overcast and cool weather conditions. After a brief, early Safety Car period, Norris swept into the lead on lap four and went on to register win number nine of the season. The next three races are staged at the Red Bull Ring in Austria over 23-24 September – an Austrian venue where Lando enjoyed success last year in Formula Renault.
Lando Norris (GB): Born: Bristol, England. Aged 17.“It’s been a fantastic weekend and brilliant in terms of the championship. But my job, in many respects, now gets harder with the team and I needing to be even more focussed over the final six races. I topped both Free Practice sessions in the dry then was fastest in qualifying. It had more or less stopped raining for ‘qually’ but a racing line was drying although ‘wets’ were still needed. My car felt very comfortable from the start and just improved as I got more temperature into the tyres. I made a pretty good start in Race 1, stayed in P1, and then just pulled away – the car was good which gave me confidence in the difficult conditions. I found it hard to get temperature in to the tyres during Saturday’s qualifying in the wet and cool conditions. I’d find a gap, catch the car ahead and would have to back off to find space only to lose [tyre] temps again and so a P3 and P2 was okay. I was pretty happy with the Race 2 result. I managed to grab second early on and was catching the leader in the closing stages but by not quite enough to take the win. I attacked after the [Safety Car] re-start in Race 3, snatched the lead then controlled the race more-or-less to the chequered flag.”