After 2-Year-Old Painful Heartbreak, Lando Norris Tipped to Claim Elusive Feat on One Condition

Published 08/19/2023, 12:45 PM EDT

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Rewind to 2021. It was the end of September, and Formula 1 headed to Sochi for the Russian GP. Off the back of a 1-2 finish at Monza just two weeks prior, McLaren was looking to hold Lewis Hamilton’s 100th win off for another race. With Lando Norris on pole for the first time and leading the race for the most part, it looked like the young Brit would finally get his first win. But it just wasn’t meant to be. With four laps to go, the weather literally decided to rain on Norris’ parade, and while he didn’t pit for Intermediate tires, Hamilton behind him did.

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You can imagine who made the right call considering Norris still doesn’t have a win to his name. The then-21-year-old came oh-so-close to his first F1 win, but Hamilton displayed his experience. Not only did the seven-time champion win his centurion that day, but he also delivered Norris the biggest heartbreak of his career thus far. Two years on from that missed opportunity, though, the McLaren driver could achieve that milestone in the near future, but on one condition. 

What does Lando Norris need to do to win his first race at McLaren?

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Mentioning race wins and McLaren in the same sentence—in a way that would mean the Woking team could achieve them—might’ve sounded absurd at the beginning of 2023. The fact that it now feels normal (and oddly right) to write that it could be a possibility this season is a testament to McLaren’s progress. From starting the year as arguably the worst car on the grid to establishing itself as a contender for P2 in the championship, the Papaya squad has come a long way, and Norris has made the most of it.

When McLaren introduced its upgrade overhaul in Austria, Norris followed it up with commendable performances there, in Silverstone, and Hungary, securing two consecutive podiums for the first time in his career. Seeing how he’s ticked that achievement off his list, the next milestone is the one he lost in Russia. As much as he’s said he’d love to get his first win (and championship) with McLaren, there have been rumors about him jumping ship. 

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On the Formula For Success Podcast, David Coulthard addressed these speculations, saying, “I think McLaren have turned the corner. They’re coming good again. And yes, he did commit to a multi-year contract with them. He would be an asset for any Formula 1 team, so I’m sure all of the other teams are well aware of what his contractual terms are. If they keep going the way they’re going right now, I see Lando winning Grands Prix at McLaren. Considering McLaren is bringing further upgrades in the second half of the season, and Norris is showing no signs of slowing down, that first win might be in the cards for him. The question is: can it happen this season?

Is a race win in 2023 a possibility for Lando Norris?

For the first time in Formula 1 history, one team winning every race of the season is an actual possibility. Red Bull could very well achieve that feat this season, considering it’s already the 12 races so far. As Norris isn’t showing signs of slowing down, neither are Red Bull and Max Verstappen. There’s no doubt McLaren has considerably brought down its gap to Red Bull, but as per CEO Zak Brown, Verstappen is still too far ahead. In a recent interview, Brown said, “Red Bull are an incredible team. We try to get close to Max [Verstappen], but every time you think you’re close, he pulls away.”

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Although Norris’ first race win looks a little unlikely this year, there’s one thing he and his team would be gunning for in the second half—the P2 spot in the championship. Currently P5, the Woking outfit would need to consistently outscore Mercedes, Aston Martin, and Ferrari in every upcoming race weekend. Although co-host of the Formula For Success Podcast, Eddie Jordan, feels catching Mercedes might be a little too optimistic, McLaren has George Russell worried. Norris’ compatriot and rival said, “It’s absolutely clear they are true contenders for the second-fastest team. McLaren have just totally thrown it in the mix. If it wasn’t for McLaren, we’d be very, very satisfied with the progress we’re making.”

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Watch This Story: How Lando Norris Had a Chance to Go to Red Bull But Instead Chose McLaren

Can Lando Norris get that elusive first win this season, or will he have to wait until 2024?

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Written by:

Aditi Krishnan

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Aditi is an F1 writer at EssentiallySports and is essentially a sportsperson. She fell in love with F1 in 2020. It happened when her brother tuned into that first race weekend in Austria, and she knew right then and there that she had to learn everything she could about the sport.
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