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Formula 1

Norris's emphatic takedown of F1 critics is entirely justified

by Scott Mitchell-Malm
6 min read

Lando Norris’s first Formula 1 win, at the 110th attempt, brings an end to the ‘Lando No-wins’ mockery the McLaren driver has been acutely aware of.

Norris recently assumed the unwelcome record of the most podiums in F1 without a victory. That is no longer the case after his Miami Grand Prix triumph, although really it should never have been reality.

His first win should have come way back in the 2021 Russian Grand Prix, a race Norris says “a lot of people talk crap about”. A late downpour cost Norris victory that day and started a strange narrative that he is a choker who cannot deliver a big result on a big occasion.

After finally breaking his duck in Miami, though, Norris gave an emphatic takedown of the criticism he has been following for some time.


Norris joked after the Miami GP that he enjoys ‘liking’ the negative comments he received on Instagram about his (previously) winless F1 career.

“I freaking love it,” he says. “It makes me smile more than anything, especially ‘Lando No-wins’. That's become the thing.

“To finally prove those people wrong, and prove to people that didn't think I could go out and do it, it's put an even bigger smile on my face. So, I thank all of them.”

When Norris looks back on the time between Russia 2021 and now, he says he sees missed pole positions, missed podiums and a missed sprint race win in Qatar. He admits that, and he’s often extremely critical of himself for making errors in qualifying in particular.

But he really doesn’t believe he’s blown a golden opportunity to win a grand prix, which is hard to argue with. There have been many occasions where he has driven exceptionally well and been rewarded with a podium but nothing more.

“There was one opportunity, and this was Qatar [the sprint race] last year,” he says. “I don't know if there was a main race that I've missed out on, to be honest.

“I've thrown away maybe a podium or a P2, but I think every opportunity where I've been there to try and take a win, I've been there.

“As much as people want to say there was this and that and Russia [2021] and whatever, there wasn't a Sunday I've missed out on a win because of something I've done wrong.

“There were pole positions. There was a sprint race win. But nothing more than that.

“And I think that's why I never lost faith. I never didn't believe in what I could go out and do.”


Norris’s critics remember Sochi 2021 for him wrongly staying out on slicks in the wet while Lewis Hamilton changed tyres, and throwing away victory as the rain poured down even harder soon after.

But it was McLaren that misjudged the situation. It didn’t anticipate a second, more aggressive downpour, which meant Norris did not have the same information Hamilton had. Expecting the conditions to remain the same, Norris thought he could continue. Had he been informed there would be even more rain, he would have stopped.

McLaren took responsibility then, and still does now. Race engineer Will Joseph said after the Miami win: “It [Sochi] haunts me every day. It haunts me in my sleep. I feel like we can put that behind us now.”

Norris says that back then “I didn't do the best of jobs and as a team we didn't”. Stella sees it as “a bit of a turning point for Lando and for the team”, to understand how to operate and work together in a high-pressure situation with that kind of result on the line.

“If I go back to that race, I think responsibility is on the pitwall, because we didn't enforce the call to pit enough,” Stella reflects.

“The driver on track, he doesn't see if it's raining somewhere else. We could see it. So it was our limitation in not enforcing Lando to pit.

“Even in that case, he was delivering the job. But we were not ready as a team to achieve the victory.”

That has since changed. Norris has finished second to Verstappen seven times in the past 12 months. All he needed on those days was for anything to trip up the Red Bull, and he’d have won.

But that slice of fortune never arrived - until Sunday in Miami.


Both Norris and Stella admit this was a weight off some shoulders. For Norris, because it has been such a long time coming. And for McLaren because the pressure to produce a car capable of winning, especially for Norris, has grown over time.

“We were totally convinced that the gap to victory for Lando, it wasn't in Lando, it was in the team,” says Stella.

“We needed to provide him with winning material. And as soon as we did it, he achieved it.

“That's for me testament to how ready he was.”

Both also feel this was on the cards once the stars finally aligned. And at the first realistic opportunity with a car capable of winning, they have converted the chance.

“I’ve been more confident than ever this year that I've got what it takes and the team have got what it takes, and I was patient with it,” says Norris.

“I've just been doing my job and executing my races, executing my qualis, and doing what I can do best. And I knew my time was coming.”

Norris had a strange weekend until Sunday, as he underperformed in sprint qualifying then was wiped out at the first corner of the sprint race itself, before qualifying a solid if slightly disappointing fifth for the grand prix.

However, as he did for the previous race in China - another weekend to feature a disappointing sprint race - Norris gathered things together and produced an excellent grand prix performance when it counted.

And while it was not a perfect weekend from start to finish, Stella believes Norris is reaping rewards this year from a better approach.

“Credit to Lando that he kept developing,” Stella says. “He developed over the winter, especially looking at improving in qualifying, delivering laps that sometimes don't have to be 100%.

“When you have a fast car, just be there. And I think he's doing that.

“I also have to say his race management is now very mature. As soon as he saw there wasn't much to do after the first lap, he started to save tyres, because he knew his race would come at some stage.

“Then the pace he was able to pull off once the cars ahead of him pitted, that was quite incredible.

“So, fast in qualifying, even sometimes pacing himself, and very mature in the race in terms of getting the most out of the material he has.”

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