Saturday, March 2, 2024

83. Lando Norris

Age 23
Occupation Driver, McLaren Racing
Nationality British
Position Last Year 100

It says a lot about Lando Norris that at only 23, he became McLaren’s senior driver. It is the only time in his racing career that he’s been the older driver in a team, but with four years, multiple podiums and a pole position in his pocket at the time, he wasn’t short of experience.

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Possessing natural raw pace, Lando’s out-and-out speed has always been evident, but during his four seasons, he’s carved out a reputation as a quality qualifier and one of the most consistent racers on the grid. Somewhat shy but with a playful sense of human and boyish charm when he first joined as Test and Simulator Driver in 2017, Lando has grown into a mature and confident leader with a sharp wit.

A gifted karter, Lando remains the youngest driver ever to set a pole position at a national meeting. In 2012, he became Formula Kart Stars champion and runner-up in the MSA Super One British Championship.

A year later, he won titles in the CIK-FIA KFJ European, CIK-FIA KFJ Super Cup, WSK Euro Series KFJ, CIK-FIA International Super Cup and World Karting Championship. In addition, he became the WSK Masters Series vice-champion. He made history by becoming the youngest karting world championship winner, taking the CIK-FIA KF World Championship title at 14, an accolade previously held by Lewis Hamilton.

His graduation to single-seaters only underlined that initial promise. In 2016, he won several single-seater championships – Formula Renault 2.0 Northern European Cup, Formula Renault 2.0 Eurocup and the Toyota Racing Series Championship in New Zealand. He then crowned his season with the McLaren Autosport BRDC Young Driver Award, which was presented to him at the Autosport Awards in December 2016.

In 2017, Lando won the European Formula 3 Championship alongside a role as a Test and Simulator Driver for the McLaren Honda Formula 1 team. After success in F3, Lando was promoted to Test and Reserve Driver in 2018 and debuted in F2 with Carlin Racing.

It was to be a busy and productive year for the teenager. He began it by contesting the Daytona 24 Hours with United Autosports, gaining valuable experience in a line-up that included Fernando Alonso.

His F2 season got off to a superb start when he won the opening feature race in Bahrain, and after that, he was a regular frontrunner, fighting for the title with George Russell and Alex Albon.

His progression towards an F1 seat continued when he enjoyed productive FP1 outings in Belgium and Italy, and in September, it was announced that he would partner Carlos Sainz at McLaren in 2018. He then finished a remarkable year in Abu Dhabi by securing the runner-up spot in F2 shortly after his 19th birthday.

Still only 19 when he made his debut, Lando enjoyed a remarkable rookie campaign in F1, finishing in the points 11 times and beating his more experienced teammate Carlos Sainz in their head-to-head qualifying battle.

He grew in stature during his sophomore campaign, clinching a maiden podium in the opening round at Austria. He’d only finish outside the points four times that season as he became a regular feature in the top 10 and helped the team to their highest finish in the Constructors’ Championship since 2012.

His stock continued to rise in 2021 as he took four more podiums and heartbreakingly missed out on a first win at the Russian Grand Prix, firmly establishing himself as an F1 frontrunner.

Lando was amongst the quickest to adapt following an overhaul to the regulations and a new generation of cars in 2022. Lando repeatedly exploited the MCL36’s full potential and then some, collecting a sixth F1 podium against the odds at the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix.

Lando emerged victorious in a highly competitive midfield battle, ending the season as the only driver outside the top three teams to take a podium. He finished behind the six drivers from the top three teams, with seventh place in the Drivers’ Championship.

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