“Worst nightmare” is how Lewis Hamilton described the Russian Grand Prix for Lando Norris. Unbelievable how close he came to his first victory in Sochi and how far finished race. Despite the improved performance of McLaren before the start, heavy rain decided to put everything right a few laps before the finish.
“Hurts, so badly” how did the Russian Grand Prix start for Lando Norris?
One of the greatest Formula 1 teams McLaren has been wowing fans lately with the performances of Lando Norris and Daniel Ricciardo. The guys try to cling on to every opportunity and wedge into the top 5. They are not afraid of the incredible Lewis Hamilton or the sudden Max Verstappen. Neither look in disbelief at the Ferrari Scuderia drivers.
The Russian Grand Prix had to bring a deserved victory for McLaren, namely Lando Norris. First call before the start of qualifying: The two competitive Valtteri Bottas’ Mercedes and Max Verstappen ‘Red Bull received a penalty and started from last place in the field. Already during the qualifying in Sochi both McLaren drivers even overtook Lewis Hamilton himself. Daniel Ricciardo had to start Sunday in third place, Lando Norris won the qualifying brilliantly.
Lando Norris Brilliant start
F1 fans, journalists and meteorologists expected rain in Sunday’s race from the first laps, but also long before the start. Unfortunately, the weather had its own plans. Past races have shown that the dirty second grid position in Sochi is an unfavorable starting position. In row two, the 890-metre track up to the first braking zone offers a much better chance for slipstream. The trio Lando Norris, Carlos Sainz and George Russell were immediately separated by speed. Carlos Sainz drove in a less powerful Ferrari than the Mercedes and Daniel Ricciardo behind him. After a while, Lewis Hamilton was clearly second behind Norris. It seemed that Lando’s brilliant victory was no longer in the way, for him there were simply no opponents in the world that day.Ironically, the rain reminded him once again when everyone stopped waiting.
Rain has its own plans!
A few moments later at the Fisht building, Max Verstappen complains indignantly about “rain.” At the same time, one of the leaders is willing to risk the last five laps, but in vain. Norris is almost 50 seconds ahead of Lewis Hamilton on lap 48.
The trio reacted differently to the late rain. Lewis Hamilton, second, and Lando Norris, the leader, hesitated until the end, even the entire grid changed tires. Sainz, third, meanwhile, was one of the first to ask his team for intermediates; Ricciardo gave clear instructions to McLaren. But when Lewis felt a lot of water under the wheels, Lando Norris was certain – there is no need and switched off the team radio. Mclaren engineers closed their eyes and begged Lando Norris in vain to come to the pits.
The gap between Lando and the others melted like a candle from 50 to seven seconds out of Norris as the McLaren driver approached the pit lane entrance on lap 50. A few moments ago, heavy rain set in at the Sochi Autodrom and ruined all Mclaren dreams of victory. Norris finally pitted – despite skidding through the pit lane, for which he was lucky to escape a time penalty, but his chances of victory were long gone. He ran wide at turn five, then spun at low speed in turn seven as Hamilton raced past.
Injured but not broken!
Hamilton led only three laps to claim his long-awaited 100th career victory. Lando Norris finished the Russian Grand Prix in 7th place. He came to congratulate Lewis, he didn’t take off his helmet. It wasn’t just the raindrops, it was tears of unfulfilled yearnings. After a while the McLaren driver added.
“I decided to stay out because the team said it was only meant to be drizzling like that and that was as hard as the rain was going to get. For whatever reason we didn’t know or see or anticipate that it was not just going to be a drizzle, it was going to be a lot of rain and that’s where we went wrong at the end of the day.”
Under the helmet of a young man there is not only a charismatic, happy guy, but a man with his own visions, whom he is willing to follow in spite of everything. Paying tribute, that is the quality of a true champion. Time will pass and Lando Norris will recover even stronger and more powerful after the Russian Grand Prix, of that there is no doubt.