LANDO’S F2 CAMPAIGN
By his own admission, 2018 has been Lando
Norris’s worst year of racing. The 18-year old is his own biggest critic, and his ability to systematically break down the pros and cons of his performance has no doubt contributed to Mclaren’s decision to step him up to its Formula 1 team in ’19.
On the plus side, Norris has led the championship for longer than any other driver this year and, unlike many before him, has been an instant title contender in his first season on the tricky Pirelli tyres. He came straight to F2 from European F3 (which he won) and its much more durable Hankook tyres.
On the negative side, he has one win to George Russell’s five, and is only really still in the hunt thanks to Russell’s myriad reliability woes. He has also been outperformed in the title run-in by his team-mate Sergio Sette Camara, who has beaten him in qualifying for the past four rounds.
One thing is certain: Norris’s consistency has been key. He didn’t finish outside the top six – either in the feature or the reversed-grid sprint – until the 14th race of the year at the Red Bull Ring, excluding the first race at Paul Ricard where F2’s tricky clutch caught him out.
While only one win is a black mark on the copybook, it’s hardly a deciding factor on whether Norris is ready to progress. He has consistently been able to move forward in races and, had his qualifying been better, more wins would have been in the bag. On the Pirellis, pace must be balanced against tyre management and tyre preparation, with no sensors on the car like F1 to give temperature readouts, meaning everything is done on driver feel.
As a rookie, Norris has handled the intricacies of F2 competition successfully. His mental strength and ability to look inward – with brutal honesty – to solve problems will serve him well when he hits trouble in F1, like every driver does. That will be crucial given that, unlike Lewis Hamilton, he is unlikely to be jumping into a race-winning machine for his rookie campaign.