Miami Grand Prix 2024: ‘Lando Norris win well deserved as Red Bull turmoil continues’

Lando Norris had not even taken his helmet off after securing his maiden Formula 1 victory at the Miami Grand Prix before the great and good of the sport began taking turns to congratulate him.

Max Verstappen, the man who Norris has become the first to beat in a straight fight this year, was the first. He was quickly followed by third-place man Charles Leclerc, two-time champion Fernando Alonso, Mercedes’ George Russell and more.

By the end of the afternoon, the list was long. This was a popular victory for a popular driver but also one that everyone recognised had been too long in coming, and was well deserved.

Heading into the Miami weekend, he held the all-time record for podium finishes without a win. Inevitably, then, there were those who were beginning to utter doubts as to whether Norris would ever stand on the top step. But only people who didn’t properly recognise Norris’ qualities doubted him.

“I wasn’t worried,” Norris said, “and I knew my time was coming.”

Norris is the son of a millionaire stock market trader. But his talent has been obvious from a very early age, and the closer he got to F1 through his junior career, the more it became obvious he was marked out for great things.

Aged 18, early in 2018, Norris was team-mate to Alonso at the Daytona 24 Hours sportscar race. It was hardly the point of their appearance, but Norris set himself a private target of leaving the event with a faster lap time than Alonso – and did it.

At the time, Norris was McLaren’s F1 reserve driver and Alonso was racing for them. Later that year, after McLaren had said they would promote Norris from reserve driver to their race team for the 2019 season, the Briton generated a few laughs in a wet practice session at the US Grand Prix in Austin by playing the boy and taking Alonso a cuppa while everyone waited for the track to dry.

But it did not take long once he was into a full-time F1 seat for Norris to shed the image of an apprentice. He went toe-to-toe with Carlos Sainz in their two seasons together and gave nothing away.

He came close to a win in Russia in 2021, when he put the McLaren on pole and led most of the race confidently before mistakenly choosing to stay out on dry-weather slicks when it rained late on.

Sainz left for Ferrari at the end of 2020 and was replaced by Daniel Ricciardo, then a seven-time race winner for Red Bull.

The talk before the partnership started was of how the pressure was all on Norris to prove he could match up. But from the off it was Norris who was the quicker driver.

When McLaren finally achieved the win that cemented their re-emergence as a front-running team after a few difficult years, it was Ricciardo who took it, on a rare strong weekend in Monza. Norris was quicker, but he’d qualified a place behind.

And when Lewis Hamilton and Max Verstappen crashed out together and left the McLarens running one-two, Norris dutifully followed team orders not to fight with his team-mate.

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