Lando Norris is the second British driver to reach 100 Grand Prix starts in this weekend’s United States Grand Prix, matching old rival George Russell in hitting three figures.
Unlike Russell – whose 99 races are reviewed here – Norris is yet to taste victory in F1, but given the form of the McLaren of late looks in a far better place to achieve his first win before Russell gets his second.
With a reputation of being one of F1’s elites, Norris has carved himself out as arguably one of the hottest properties on the grid having transformed from McLaren rookie to a driver capable of challenging Lewis Hamilton or Max Verstappen.
Here are Lando Norris’s best and worst moments in F1 – so far.
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Norris reaches the highs
After a strong if unspectacular debut season in 2019 ended with 49 points and 11th place in the standings, Norris started the delayed 2020 season in fine form.
In the 2020 Austrian Grand Prix, he was running fourth in the closing stages, but was in sight of Hamilton ahead – who had just been issued a five-second time penalty for colliding with Alexander Albon.
The hunt was on as the McLaren tried to close the gap to within the magical five-seconds to earn a maiden podium. At the line, after pushing hard on the final tour, he was less than two-tenths within the zone and pushed Hamilton off the podium after superb coaching from his race engineer Will Joseph.
No further podiums came in 2020, but in 2021, Norris firmly put team-mate Daniel Ricciardo in the shade, including lapping the Australian on his way to third in Monaco.
Norris was able to find a way to drive around the problems of the McLaren whereas Ricciardo simply could not as the latter’s reputation took a battering while Norris’s continued on an upward curve.
To date, Norris’s best finishing position is second – something he first achieved at the 2021 Italian Grand Prix.
This was the race Verstappen parked the Red Bull on top of Hamilton’s Mercedes, clearing the path for a McLaren win – although as far as Norris was concerned, it was the wrong McLaren as Ricciardo claimed the team’s first win since 2012.
The MCL35M package was strong with Norris also sticking it on pole next time out at the 2021 Russian Grand Prix – both the best and worst race of Norris’s 99 starts to date – more on that later…
Only one podium followed in 2022 as the new technical regulations handed an advantage to the top three teams, but Norris has hit back with the sizeable MCL60 upgrades on the 2023 car – banking five podiums including four P2 finishes all to the dominant Verstappen.
Of the three British drivers on the grid, it is surely Norris who is best positioned to record the 309th win for a Briton in the World Championship given the pace of the McLaren and Hamilton and Russell’s Mercedes.
Norris’s setbacks in F1
At Monza the day Ricciardo won, Norris found himself sitting behind his team-mate, and was given a team order in no uncertain terms to challenge the Australian.
But he blew his victory chance at Sochi next time out in what turned out to be the final Russian Grand Prix.
Leading from pole, Norris was calm and composed as Hamilton was hunting him down for his 100th win as the race entered its closing stages.
There was no way that Hamilton would have been able to get close enough to challenge for the win in normal conditions, but Mother Nature had something to say.
As rain began to fall, Hamilton dived for the pits and Intermediate tyres as Norris firmly insisted that he wanted to stay out on slicks.
Seconds later that proved wrong as the heavens opened and he aquaplaned off as Hamilton went sailing past. A near certain win had been lost with only seventh place his reward.
Norris cut a broken figure in the paddock – but the toughest of lessons only come in times of defeat. He won’t make a similar mistake again.
The fiercely competitive Norris has not been happy with fighting for midfield points and the odd podium, but McLaren’s surge in form has made him and team-mate Oscar Piastri favourites for regular podiums.
However, the 2023 Qatar Grand Prix was another setback as Piastri firmly put Norris in the shade throughout the weekend and left the Briton searching for answers.
Firstly, Piastri didn’t run wide and lose lap-times in qualifying as Norris did despite his claims he would have been on for Sprint and Grand Prix poles had he got the times on the board.
He didn’t and Piastri did – with the Australian putting in a dominant show in the Sprint to take his first ‘F1 win.’
Piastri is gaining momentum with Norris’s big challenge now is to maintain his position within the team and ensure he learns from the mistakes made to capitalise on the next opportunity that comes his way, as many will as he heads off towards the next milestone of 150 Grand Prix starts.