Lando Norris, McLaren, Spa-Francorchamps, 2019

‘I didn’t believe in myself much. But after Australia and Bahrain and I gained a lot of confidence’

Lando Norris performance analysis

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Lando Norris is refreshing straightforward and surprisingly frank when discussing his approach to racing.

He had much to be proud of his first full season of Formula 1 at McLaren. But the F3 champion and F2 runner-up admitted feeling apprehensive about his debut and not knowing “if I was going to be good enough” compared to team mate Carlos Sainz Jnr.

“I didn’t know if I was going to be quick enough going up against a driver who’s done four years in Formula 1, in McLaren – just in Formula 1 against so many good drivers,” said Norris. “I didn’t know if I was going to be able to do a good enough job every time.

“So I just didn’t believe in myself much. But already even after Australia and then Bahrain and I already gained a lot of confidence from that.”

Having reached Q3 on his debut in Australia and placed sixth at the chequered flag in Bahrain, Norris impressed from the off. Indeed, it was something of a surprise he didn’t better that sixth place before the season ended, though with better luck he would have done.

Qualifying: Lap time

The lower the lines, the better the driver performed

Lando Norris, McLaren, Albert Park, 2019
Reaching Q3 on his debuted showed Norris’ pure pace
Qualifying was a consistent strength of Norris’s throughout his junior career until he reached Formula 2, when he seemed to lose his edge. But on moving up to F1, he rediscovered his knack for great flying laps.

He tied 10-10 with Sainz over the course of the season, a fine effort for a rookie. But being Norris, he would only concede a modicum of satisfaction at the outcome.

“It’s a nice thing,” he admitted. “But at the end of the day, he’s beat me in the championship in the drivers and that’s what matters a lot more than just out-qualifying a guy.

“So qualifying I can be happy with. In the races I need to take a step forward going into next year.”

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Race: Start versus finish

While Sainz often managed to hold or improve his position in the races, Norris’s pattern wasn’t quite as favourable. This was only partly due to his various misfortunes, the most notable of which was the power unit problem on the penultimate lap at Spa which cost him a potential season-best finish of fifth.

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Race: Share of points

Race: Results versus other drivers

Lando Norris, McLaren, Yas Marina, 2019
Norris saw improvements in his final race last year
Speaking after the final race of last year, Norris described how he needs to become more “proactive” at the wheel during races, something he intended to work on for the new season.

“I already did it better this race and I’m very happy with how I did this race. I didn’t always rely on the engineers telling me something. I was already making my own changes.

“It’s just experience of knowing when to push, when not to push, when to save tyres. Charging the battery, using the battery in the right areas – it’s just a bit of experience.

“I don’t like blaming it on experience, but I think a little bit of experience and I’ll come back next year – I want to be confident saying that I’ll come back next year and be better with this. I would have reviewed this race, reviewed probably every race of the season by next year and throughout the winter, and come back a stronger guy.”

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Race: Reasons for retirements

SpainAccident (Stroll)
GermanyPower unit

2019 F1 season

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Author information

Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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4 comments on “‘I didn’t believe in myself much. But after Australia and Bahrain and I gained a lot of confidence’”

  1. Norris is the face of new F1: very young, still untainted by politics, open hearted, somewhat funny.

    Reminds me a little of Ricciardo and Massa in the first years. But when old F1 starts penetrating their skin they seem to loose the smile.

    We’ve all seen that change of mood that lasts until they leave F1. Senna when he was DQ in Japan 1989. Alonso when he had his years pulled in public by Ferrari for saying he wanted a RBR as birthday gift. Vettel when he received the cold shoulder from Marko in 2014. Barrichello when he was told to let Schumacher pass or he would loose the seat.

    Hope the McLaren duo can keep their smile for long. Isn’t that supposed to be the new F1?

    1. In case of Rubens he revealed years later that he was concerned about safety of his family and had to let Cheat pass through for win.

      Apart from Ron Dennis leaving McLaren and the Honda debacle, that team has humbled a lot and is treating its drivers much better than it might have done few years back. Hopefully this new McLaren will continue their work back to front of field.

      1. ‘cheat’?
        Schumacher would have beaten Barrichello on any day of the week, ‘cheats’, fixes, Benetton traction control, anything, the guy was one of the top two drivers.

        Senna then Schumacher, the rest of them are no where in comparison.

  2. “But after Australia and Bahrain and I gained a lot of confidence” Did he utter these exact words? Because that’s lousy sentence structure. :)

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