McLaren have signed up-and-coming British star Lando Norris as their second driver for 2019, alongside in-bound Carlos Sainz.
The 18-year old from Somerset will be replacing Stoffel Vandoorne, who was announced this morning to be leaving the team at the end of the season after two difficult years with them.
Norris won the prestigious McLaren Autosport BRDC Award in 2016, and the year after that claimed the FIA Formula 3 European Championship and joined the McLaren Young Driver Programme, before graduating to F2 for 2018, where he is currently embroiled in a battle for the title with fellow Brit George Russell.
His first taste of F1 came when he participated in the end of season test in Abu Dhabi in 2017. Since then, he has taken part in 2018 pre-season testing, the mid-season test in Hungary, and also in FP1 at both Spa and Monza.
“To be announced as a race driver for McLaren is a dream come true,” said Norris. “Although I’ve been part of the team for a while now, this is a special moment, one I could only hope would become reality.
“I’d like to thank the whole team for this amazing opportunity and for believing in me. I’m also extremely grateful for the commitment McLaren has already shown in my development, allowing me to build my experience in a Formula 1 car in both testing and on Fridays during the past two race weekends.”
McLaren CEO Zak Brown added, “We believe Lando is an exciting talent, full of potential, who we’ve very deliberately kept within the McLaren fold for exactly that reason.
“We already know he’s fast, he learns quickly, and has a mature head on his young shoulders. We see much potential for our future together. The investment we have made in his budding career with simulator development and seat-time in the car has been well-deserved, as he has continued to prove his abilities both behind the wheel and in his work with the engineering team.”
McLaren’s Fernando Alonso has said that despite having fond memories of the Monza circuit, he is not holding out hope for a good result at this weekend’s Italian Grand Prix, with the track unlikely to play to his car’s strengths.
“Monza is a very special circuit for me and I have a lot of happy memories there,” he said. “It has a different feeling to many tracks – maybe because of the heritage or the fans, I’m not sure – but the emotions you feel when the fans invade the track after the race is like nowhere else in the world – there’s so much passion there.
“For us we know this weekend will be difficult, like in Spa. Better tracks are coming for us, that’s for sure, but Monza has all the characteristics that expose the weaknesses of our package. We just have to work as hard as possible and see what we can get out of it.”
Last weekend’s Belgian Grand Prix came to a rather jarring halt for Alonso before he’d even reached the first corner. P17 was his result in qualifying – the worst Saturday for McLaren so far this year after team-mate Stoffel Vandoorne qualified P20 – but the Spaniard was bumped up a few places on the grid thanks to engine penalties given to those around him.
Unfortunately, that put him right in the thick of things when Renault’s Nico Hulkenberg missed his braking point going into La Source on lap one and triggered a series of events that ended in Alonso being launched over the top of Charles Leclerc in an incident reminiscent of the crash at the start of the 2012 Belgian Grand Prix.
“After the accident in Spa last Sunday,” Alonso added, “I know the team has been working very hard to make sure we have enough parts for this back-to-back race. I’m very grateful for their efforts and I’ll still be giving it maximum attack even if it will be a challenging weekend.”
Featured image – Steven Tee/McLaren. Ref: Digital Image _1ST2801
McLaren’s Fernando Alonso has said the team is seeking to improve their pace during qualifying ahead of this weekend’s German Grand Prix at Hockenheim.
“We know we need to work on our qualifying performances to give ourselves the best chance on Sunday,” he said, “but we’ve also seen that during the race we can push forward and secure points, so the aim is to achieve the same in Germany [this] weekend.”
So far this season, Alonso has only made it into Q3 twice – in Spain and in Monaco – while team-mate Stoffel Vandoorne hasn’t managed to do so at all. For the most part, the duo have been stuck in the midst of the mid-field, with P13 and P14 being their most frequent results in qualifying. There is no doubt that the French Grand Prix provided their worst Saturday of the year so far – though Vandoorne has failed to make it out of Q3 on four occasions, Paul Ricard has been the only track thus far where Alonso has joined him.
Speaking of the Hockenheim track, Alonso was realistic about his chances. “[I] have won there three times so it’s great to be back after a break last year. The track is viewed as one of the classics, it’s fun to drive and there are a couple of overtaking opportunities – and an extra DRS zone this year – so hopefully we can fight with the cars around us.
“The next couple of races before the summer break are on very different tracks. We need to work hard, and do as much as possible to adapt our set-up for each of them to maximise our chances. We know this weekend won’t be an easy track for us but we’ll give it our best as always.”
Last time out at the power-sensitive Silverstone, Alonso unexpectedly made up five places during the race to end up in the points for the 200th time in his career. In apparently typical McLaren style, the eighth place finish was not made easy for him after – unsurprisingly – a lacklustre qualifying the day before, a trend Alonso and the team are hoping they can end sooner rather than later.
Valtteri Bottas has claimed his first pole position of the year, and leads a Mercedes 1-2 into tomorrow’s Austrian Grand Prix.
Of the big-hitters, only Bottas and Ferrari’s Kimi Raikkonen had a truly clean session. Both Lewis Hamilton and Sebastian Vettel made mistakes early on – at turn three and turn four respectively – and ended up relatively far back after the first Q3 runs had been completed. It took until the last couple of minutes for the pair to pull themselves back up the order – Hamilton ultimately qualified P2, and Vettel P3, with both pushing Kimi Raikkonen down into P4. Vettel was noted as being under investigation for allegedly impeding Carlos Sainz in Q2, but since Sainz did advance to Q3 it is uncertain whether Vettel will receive any penalty.
Red Bull had expected qualifying to be a struggle compared to Mercedes and Ferrari coming into the weekend. Max Verstappen may have qualified P5 but he was still two tenths behind Raikkonen, and Daniel Ricciardo ended up P7 behind the Haas of an impressive Romain Grosjean. Replays of team radio throughout the session indicated a certain amount of tension in the team, with Ricciardo frustrated that Verstappen did not follow orders to lead the Australian for a lap and give him a tow, as Ricciardo had done for Verstappen the lap before.
Kevin Magnussen and the two Renaults of Carlos Sainz and Nico Hulkenberg complete the top ten.
Further down the order, Charles Leclerc continues to impress in the Sauber. He qualified P13 but carries a five-place grid penalty due to his gearbox needing to be changed following a stoppage on track in FP3.
Force India’s Sergio Perez had a nightmare of a session. The Mexican complained of running out of battery during his first run and of getting stuck in traffic during his second. He failed to make it out of Q1 and starts P17.
It was also a frustrating session for McLaren’s Stoffel Vandoorne and Toro Rosso’s Brendon Hartley. Both were looking to pull themselves out of the drop-zone and into Q2, but encountered yellow flags on their flying laps when Charles Leclerc ran through the gravel trap in the final moments of Q1.
Both Mercedes and Red Bull will start tomorrow’s Grand Prix on the supersoft tyres, with all those around them starting on the ultras. Bottas will be hoping to convert pole position into a win, at the circuit where he claimed his second ever victory in 2017.
Austrian Grand Prix Grid
1. Valtteri Bottas – 1:03.130
2. Lewis Hamilton – 1:03.149
3. Sebastian Vettel – 1:03.464
4. Kimi Raikkonen – 1:03.660
5. Max Verstappen – 1:03.840
6. Romain Grosjean – 1:03.892
7. Daniel Ricciardo – 1:03.996
8. Kevin Magnussen – 1:04.051
9. Carlos Sainz – 1:04.725
10. Nico Hulkenberg – 1:05.019
11. Esteban Ocon – 1:04.845
12. Pierre Gasly 0 1:04.874
13. Fernando Alonso – 1:05.058
14. Lance Stroll – 1:05.286
15. Stoffel Vandoorne – 1:05.271
16. Sergio Perez – 1:05.279
17. Sergey Sirotkin – 1:05.322
18. Charles Leclerc – 1:04.979 *5-place penalty for gearbox change
19. Brendon Hartley 1:05.366
20. Marcus Ericsson – 1:05.479
Update – 17:30 – Sebastian Vettel has been given a three-place penalty by the stewards for impeding Carlos Sainz at turn one in Q2. The German will now start P6, promoting Kimi Raikkonen to P3, Max Verstappen to P4, and Romain Grosjean to P5.
Formal talks between Red Bull and Honda started earlier this week for the possibility of the Japanese giants to supply the team for the 2019 season onwards. Informal talks where held prior to the hectic Azerbaijan Grand Prix between Red Bull’s Helmut Marko and Honda’s Masahi Yamamoto.
With Red Bull currently using Renault, and their junior team Toro Rosso using Honda they have the unique capability to review both power units. Red Bull have partnered Renault since the 2007 season. Success peaked with the Red Bull team winning four Driver and Constructors Championships in a row. Since the 2014 season though when the complicated hybrids were introduced, the relationship has become very fractious publicly and it makes those years seem much longer ago than they were. Renault have had enough and multiple sources late last year said that they want to stop supplying the team.
Cyril Abiteboul from Renault Sport have made it clear to Red Bull they need to know the situation prior to the 15th May. This is the date when they have to provide information to the FIA for next season in regards to which teams they will supply engines too. They need to start organising the amount of parts they need, so Red Bull – Honda will have to conclude discussions pretty quickly. If nothing is completed by that set date Renault are forced to continue to supply Red Bull.
Red Bull’s interest has grown due to Honda coming on leaps and bounds since last season. Throughout pre-season testing they performed with far greater reliability and speed than previous seasons.. It seems from the performance of Toro Rosso thus far, McLaren may have made another mistake to add to their collection in recent years. All the power units are getting closer, its just that Mercedes have that so called party mode to exploit in qualifying. The unreliability of the Honda engine the in the McLaren of previous years wasn’t solely down to Honda, which McLaren, have confirmed since.
So far in 2018 season it seemed all the reliability Honda had in pre-season was lost when Gasly had to retire his car due to a MGU-H problem at the Australian GP. They have had no major problems noted since then.
Renault are not without their own faults this season. Two most major ones happened at Bahrain. Verstappen suffered from an unexpected power surge causing him to lose the rear end of the car. This made him a passenger as his car collided into the wall ending his qualifying. On the Sunday an energy store problem halted Ricciardo’s drive from a strong position. This ironically gave Gasly a boost up the order, to which he finished an outstanding 4th, after an amazing qualifying on Saturday. This was the best ever result for Honda powered car since their return to the sport.
The talks are ongoing. F1 has recently announced new aero rules have been for 2019, so albeit 4 races into the season, preparations for the next season will start earlier than usual. The Spanish Grand Prix is when major upgrades are shown and we start to see what the 2018 prototype cars are really capable of. With the forthcoming 15th of May engine deadline falling a few days after the Spanish GP, we are likely to see announcement very soon, if not before the GP.
If Red Bull as expected do move to Honda power, only time will tell if this was the right choice. But do they have any other choice as they have burnt many bridges already in F1?
A few months ago, almost everyone was complaining about the Halo. In Spain, where the first off-season test took place, the majority of the F1 fans didn’t like the design of the 2018 cars, especially because of the ‘Sayonara’ shape which is attached on the cockpit.
The next biggest issue that most of us had/have, is the lack of overtaking and suspense. Which I will agree, the past seasons were boring with zero suspense. We knew the winning team from the first race, except last season where Vettel was challenging Hamilton, our agony lasted until the British Grand Prix. The British champion returned to the winning mode and personally, I couldn’t see the Ferrari be able to stop the Silver Arrows.
This year, everything looks different. In Australia, Hamilton took the pole, but Ferrari copied their last year’s recipe and Vettel took the chequered flag. Two weeks later, in Bahrain, Sebastian Vettel drove from the pole till the final lap and scored his second consecutive victory.
Red Bull, which have faced several technical and non-technical issues this season, managed to do the impossible. Daniel Ricciardo, started the race from the fourth place, but after a thrilling race he took the chequered flag.
Lack of suspense
In Bahrain, Ferrari did not have an easy afternoon. Lewis Hamilton, had an impressive race, he managed to finish third from the ninth place, whilst his team-mate, was pushing Vettel, who decided to go for one stop strategy and finished the race on softs. Valtteri was close to Vettel, he had fresher tyres and a harder compound, in the final laps he was less than a second behind the German, but he couldn’t find the space and the speed to pass Vettel’s Ferrari. It was a thrilling race full of suspense and unpredictable until the chequered flag. After 57 laps, Sebastian Vettel finished first, 0.699s ahead of Valtteri Bottas.
The Battle between the Middle Teams
A dreaming start for the McLaren, in their first season with Renault powered engines. In Australia, Fernando Alonso finished fifth, between the two Red Bulls, while his team-mate, Stoffel Vandoorne finished ninth and scored two points for the McLaren. In Bahrain, both McLaren’s drivers finished in the points, Nando and Stoffel scored ten points combined. That was the second consecutive double point finish for McLaren. Fernando Alonso, didn’t stop the good performances in China. The Spaniard finished seventh ahead of Sebastian Vettel, including a great overtake on Vettel.
Renault looks that provides stable engines to McLaren, which is currently fourth in the constructor championship with 28 points. Fernando Alonso has scored 22 points so far, and he is in the sixth place, not far behind from Daniel Ricciardo and Kimi Raikkonen.
Another team, which had an impressive start been Haas, the American team impressed their fans in Australia with their competitiveness and their speed. Unfortunately, both drivers retired after a mistake during their pit-stops.
The two teams which have not met their fans’ expectations are the Force India and Williams. Force India has scored one point until now, they are ninth ahead of Williams which are at the bottom of the championship. Esteban Ocon, finished tenth in Bahrain and scored the only point for Sahara Force India so far.
Mercedes, the calm before the storm
Mercedes looks like the giant who is sleeping and everyone is trying not to wake him up. The Silver Arrows, have the speed and the pace to follow both Ferrari and Red Bull. Some poor strategic decisions cost them the victory in Australia. Bottas was chasing Vettel in Bahrain, but didn’t manage to pass him and in China Valtteri and Hamilton finished second and fourth respectively.
If the Halo makes the cars uglier but the championship more exciting and unpredictable, I would suggest to add more ‘Halos’ to the cars.
For me, the championship has not even started yet, next race takes place in Azerbaijan, which was one of the most unpredictable and emotional race of the 2017 season. Ferrari seems to have the upper hand, but both Mercedes and Red Bull are close and can easily challenge the Italians.
Ferrari and Sebastian Vettel are in party mode, after an unexpected victory in the first race of the 2018 season in Melbourne.
The German driver, qualified third, behind his team-mate and the 2017 world champion, Lewis Hamilton. The Italians took a risk and split the strategy between the drivers, Kimi Raikkonen pitted on lap 21, switched from ultrasofts to softs, Mercedes called Lewis Hamilton into the pits right after Kimi’s stop. Sebastian Vettel, remained on track for some extra laps, on the 25th lap Kevin Magnussen pitted from the fourth position, a few meters after Kevin re-joined the track, forced to step aside and park his car due to an error during the pit-stop.
A couple of laps later, Romain Grosjean pitted for a fresh set of supersofts tyres, but he copied his team-mate exact footsteps, Romain parked his car and retired from the race, for the same reason as Kevin Magnussen, loose wheels, after the pit-stop. The wheels on both cars were not being placed correctly before the nuts were tightened.
The only difference between Kevin Magnussen and Romain Grosjean, retirement, was the Grosjean’s car could not be easily recovered, hence the VSC deployed followed by a safety car.
During the VSC period, Sebastian Vettel pitted, that gave him a 10 second advantage over Lewis Hamilton. The German, re-join ahead of the Mercedes and he was leading the race. Hamilton pushed hard, after the SC, to catch and pass Vettel, the British champion was very close to Vettel’s Ferrari, but a small driving error cost him time and he also lost pace in the final laps of the race.
Sebastian Vettel celebrated a second consecutive victory in Australia and started the 2018 year with the same way he did in 2017.
A poor strategy, cost the chance to Red Bull to be competitive and score a podium in Australia. Both Daniel Ricciardo and Max Verstappen started the race on supersofts, Verstappen and Ricciardo qualified fourth and eighth respectively. A three place grid penalty was given to Daniel Ricciardo for failing to slow down for a red flag, during free practice.
The Dutch, was not quick enough to challenge the two Ferraris in the opening lap, at turn one on the tenth lap, Max spun his Red Bull and lost places. He was unable to recover, as he was also facing unbalance issues caused by the damaged floor on his car.
Daniel Ricciardo wanted to finish on the podium in his home race, after the retirement of the two Haas, the Australian was fourth behind Kimi Raikkonen. The Finn, had to defend his position as Daniel was on his tail for most of the time in the final laps of the Grand Prix.
At the end, Ricciardo finished fourth and Max Verstappen sixth, behind Fernando Alonso.
Double point finish for McLaren
For the first time since 2014, McLaren scored points in Melbourne. The fifth place that Alonso took matched his best ever result in three years with Honda power. McLaren, couldn’t imagine a better start, Alonso and Vandoorne scored 12 points combined in the opening race of the 2018 season.
Furthermore, Fernando Alonso had the pace to hold back a Red Bull and he finished ahead of Valtteri Bottas’ Mercedes.
The outcome of the race affected by the VSC and Haas retirements, personally I was impressed with the pace the American team showed in the first laps of the Grand Prix and I would like to see them racing until the chequered flag.
It is still too early to judge, but I will take the risk to say that Asia will play a key role in the championship. If Ferrari has learnt from their mistakes, this year will be very interesting till the final chequered flag.
Season finale once again, the 2017 Formula One season, belongs to the past, it’s hard to describe my feelings for this season. There are two emotional packages, the first one is before the summer break and the other one is after the break, mixed emotions but at the end, despite the results, despite the winner, there is no way to relieve the pain that appears when the F1 season ends. Now we have to wait until the first pre-season tests to hear the noise of the engines, but before that there will be massive debates about the Halo. Personally, I don’t like it, but the drivers’ safety is always the most important factor, end of discussion!
A traditional review would break the season into two parts and remind you round by round, or race by race, if you prefer, what happened the past months. Let’s try a different approach, a shorter season review, which will try to put you in a flashback mode, and pass all the 2017 season in front of your eyes in 1 minute (okay maybe a bit more!)
8 months ago…
Season premiere, tonnes of coffee for us who are living in the European time zone, agony as well, like the first day in school after the summer break! Sebastian Vettel, started from the second place, had better set up and a faster car than his title rival, Lewis Hamilton, and won for the first time since the Singapore Grand Prix in September 2015. Mercedes asked from Hamilton to go faster, but the Brit had issues with his tyres and was unable to catch Vettel’s speed.
Not a race to remember for Daniel Ricciardo, the Australian’s Red Bull, stopped on the way to the grid, his mechanics sent him back to the race, and on the second lap he had another issue, returned to the track, to enjoy his home race, but retired before the 30th lap.
Lewis Hamilton took his revenge, the Briton won his first victory in 2017. On Saturday he secured the pole, and had an advantage the following day, Vettel was close but never too close and at the end Hamilton took the chequered flag. The drivers started the race on wets, Max Verstappen had an impressive race, moved from the 16th to the third. Antonio Giovinazzi crashed his Sauber on the third lap of the race and retired, a good result for Carlos Sainz who finished seventh and scored six points for Toro Rosso.
Pole position for Valtteri Bottas, the first in his career, the Finn set the fastest lap on Saturday, followed by his team-mate and Sebastian Vettel. Ferrari, had the pace to challenge Mercedes, and win their second victory of the season. At that moment, it was clear that the 2017 title would be decided between Hamilton and Vettel. Lewis Hamilton received a five second time penalty, for driving slowly on the pit entry to hold up Daniel Ricciardo. Lewis, served his penalty during the second and final pit-stop, when he re-joined the track he was behind Vettel and Bottas. The Finn stepped aside, allowed to Hamilton to pass him and chase Vettel, but Hamilton was not able to cover the 12 second gap in nine laps.
Max Verstappen crashed on the eleventh lap of the race, due to brake problems and retired.
Russia was the next stop for the Formula 1 crew, after the Bahrain Grand Prix. Sebastian Vettel was prepared to celebrate another victory in 2017, as he claimed the pole position in Bahrain, followed by Kimi Raikkonen and Valtteri Bottas, but the Finn had other plans. The Silver Finn, jumped the two Ferraris in front of him and took the lead on the opening lap. Bottas, despite the pressure from Vettel during the final laps, managed to remain first until the chequered flag and scored his first victory in Formula 1.
Hola amigos, said Hamilton to Sebastian Vettel. After an amazing start, Vettel passed Hamilton on the first lap, but Mercedes had an ace under its sleeve. The Silver Arrows, decided not to follow Ferraris strategy and go for a quick stop, but to leave Hamilton on the track for a longer medium stint and gain an advantage on a later stage of the race. Valtteri Bottas, delayed Vettel, as the German couldn’t pass the Finn, Mercedes pitted Hamilton, after the end of VSC, and with 30 laps to go. The British champion, re-joined on softs, Vettel pitted a lap later and after a wheel to wheel battle with Hamilton managed to remain first. On lap 44, Lewis was on Sebastian’s tail, took advantage of the DRS and overtook the race. Since that moment Lewis has tried to increase the gap between him and Vettel and at the end, he took his second chequered flag of the season.
Hamilton vs Vettel = 2-2
Kimi Raikkonen started from the pole position, after nine years, Kimi took advantage of Vettel’s mistakes on his flying lap, and took the pole on Saturday’s session. A race to forget for Hamilton, Lewis qualified 13th and finished seventh. Jenson Button, replaced Fernando Alonso, in Monaco, but collided with Pascal Wehrlein on lap 60 and retired the race.
Ferrari decided to pit Kimi on lap 34, Sebastian Vettel found the opportunity and set some flying laps, pitted after five laps, and re-joined ahead of his team-mate.
Daniel Ricciardo was the third person on the podium, it was Red Bull’s third podium of the season, and the second consecutive for Ricciardo.
Easy weekend for Lewis Hamilton, the Briton started and finished the race from the same position, the first. Vettel, qualified second on Saturday, couldn’t follow the pace of the two Mercedes’ and Ricciardo’s, he finished only fourth. Sergio Perez, refused to follow Force India’s orders, to allow Ocon to pass, while he was fourth behind Ricciardo. At the end, Sergio Perez and Esteban Ocon finished fifth and sixth respectively.
Three safety cars, and several crashed were not enough to stop Daniel Ricciardo to win his first victory in 2017. Sebastian Vettel collided with Lewis Hamilton, he got a 10 second stop and go time for swearing in Hamilton’s car.
Daniel Ricciardo totally deserved the victory in the Baku Grand Prix, the Australian dropped down to 17th place, but moved up to the tenth position just before the first safety car. The two following, safety cars, and the troubles between the leading drivers, gave the advantage to Ricciardo to move all the way up in the first place.
A race that Stroll will never forget, the Canadian young driver finished on the podium for the first time in his career.
Valtteri Bottas dominated in Austria, took his second victory in 2017. A five-place grid penalty dropped Hamilton to eighth position, the following day, Lewis finished fourth behind Daniel Ricciardo whilst Sebastian Vettel finished second. During the final laps of the race, Vettel was closing to Bottas and Hamilton to Ricciardo, for the third place, but both drivers didn’t improve their position.
After the Austrian Grand Prix, Sebastian Vettel was leading in the championship standings by 20 points.
Home race for Lewis Hamilton and he couldn’t imagine a better way to thank his fans who appeared in Silverstone, than to win the British Grand Prix. With that victory, Lewis Hamilton tied the all-time record of five career wins in the British GP.
“The support has been incredible this weekend, I am so proud I could do this for you all. Now the plan is to win the championship.” Lewis Hamilton said after his victory in Silverstone.
An issue on Vettel’s front tyre, dropped him to seventh place behind Hulkenberg. Kimi Raikkonen, suffered the same problem a couple laps earlier, which cost him the second position, dropped him to the third place, whilst Bottas moved up to the second position.
The last race before the summer break, Ferrari dominated in Hungary, and responded to Mercedes 1-2 in Silverstone. Sebastian Vettel, despite the problems that his Ferrari suffered, he won in Hungary, followed by his team-mate Kimi Raikkonen, who was complaining about Vettel’s speed.
Lewis Hamilton, was not able to catch the two Ferraris in front of him and allowed Bottas to pass him and finish third. The Briton, kept the promise which made to Valtteri earlier in the race, when Bottas allowed Lewis to pass, as he was moving faster at that point of the race.
A great race for Fernando Alonso, who finished sixth and scored crucial points for McLaren, a positive result for Carlos Sainz Jnr too, the Spaniard finished seventh behind Alonso.
On Saturday McLaren junior driver and much acclaimed star of the future Lando Norris finally secured the FIA European Formula 3 title at Hockenheim with two races still left to run. Those who follow the series closely will have been surprised not to see him clinch the championship sooner, and he would have. Had it not been for a last lap tangling with Ralf Aron during the last race of the penultimate round at Spielberg. Even more impressively, Norris becomes the first non-Prema Powerteam driver to win the F3 title in the past six years, highlighting the amazing work both the driver himself, and his team, Carlin, have done over the course of 2017.
While Norris’ season got off to a shaky start, in the latter half of the year the consistent results started to roll in and in a tightly packed field, Norris began to emerge as a favourite for the title. No doubt he benefitted from a downturn in form from one of his nearest rivals, Swedish driver Joel Erikkson, and the disappearance of Prema’s usual dominance. But Norris took the chances when they came his way and in the end there was little doubt that he would walk away with the title. His ability to keep improving over the course of the season it was makes him such a strong competitor, and is probably part of the reason why the young British driver has won the title in almost every series he has competed in to date.
This ability to keep building on his natural talent and skill start, is probably most evident in his race starts. In the first few rounds of 2017 while Norris would ordinarily pull out stellar qualifying performances, he would struggle to get off the line smoothly, sometimes stalling completely. It didn’t always mean he was destined to finish down the order, but it certainly did not help his case. However, by the last few rounds, Norris seemed to have conquered these demons and removed the weakness from his arsenal.
It is also probably no coincidence that Norris really hit his stride just after his participation in the in-season test for McLaren at the Hungaroring back in August. Whether it the positive press he received after an impressive first showing F1 machinery provided a confidence boost for the seventeen-year-old, or he unlocked a new level to his performance working with them, the effect was positive. Expectations were high after his showing during the two-day test, and it would have been very easy for the young driver to buckle beneath it all, but if anything it seemed to spur him on to prove that he could live up to the hype.
2017 marks another year in what is shaping up to be quite an impressive junior career for the most recent recipient of the McLaren Autosport BRDC Award. Since his 2015 MSA Formula title, Norris has added the top prize of every full series he’s competed in to his resume. And the Formula 3 title makes it his fifth championship in around two years, which can go someway in explaining why he is rated so highly.
So what’s next for the young British driver? Reports indicate that he will most likely become McLaren’s official reserve driver in 2018, taking that role from F1 World Champion Jenson Button. Most likely he will attempt to follow up his Formula 3 success with a stint in either Super Formula or Formula 2 – with many linking him to a F2 seat at Prema Racing who just took Charles Leclerc to the title in his rookie year.
Though he is certainly setting himself up for success in Formula 1, where he will hopefully find himself in the future, next season would perhaps be a season or so too soon. The raw ability is undoubtedly there, but as his early season difficulties and rashness in Austria show, there are still a few choice areas where some ironing out is required. It is easy to forget just how young Lando Norris is, and sometimes it does peek through in his racing. However, he is not yet eighteen, so time is on his side.
According to German media, the contract between McLaren and Honda has been terminated. McLaren is set to take the last details of the contract with Renault, while Toro Rosso switched to Honda. Fernando Alonso will stay at McLaren.
For few days now, media stations reported the divorce between McLaren and Honda. Now the very reliable Michael Schmidt from ‘Auto Motor und Sport’ told in his latest video that the ex-dream partnership broke down on Monday.
While the whole world of F1 is waiting daily for an announcement of news in the engine drama, the teams and manufacturers are planing the last details in their contract, for example the drivers and payments.
According to Schmidt McLaren’s plan to “blackmail” the FIA, in terms of leaving Honda and say that they are need a engine in hope to receiving a Ferrari or Mercedes engine, failed. The ruleholders showed the british team the regulation that say, that every team has to tell the FIA his engine partners before the end of may.
The decision of being with Renault next year will be a indicatory for McLaren. CEO Zak Brown told Sky Sports that this will be probably the most important decision for the woking based team ever. Now it seems to be done.
For more information what this deal mean: We already reported a week ago about the scenario:
Alonso will stay at McLaren – First signs on Twitter?
Also Schmidt is saying, that after that new engine deal is done, two time worldchampion Fernando Alonso will stay at McLaren.
The Spaniard maybe showed the first signs of the lost trust in Honda and the end of the McLaren-Honda era on Twitter.
While he had a picture on his twitter baner, with his first kart that is coloured in the original iconic red-white of the McLaren-Honda alongside the real MP4/4 in his museum, there are now his own Fernando Alonso carts on the baner.
Also he doesn’t following Hondas twitter pages anymore – Ironically the same happened as he leaved Ferrari back in 2014. Back then he unfollowed the twitter page of the italian brand before the whole story got official.