09 July 2023

Lando Norris ‘honoured’ to join Lewis Hamilton in battle for Formula One glory

09 July 2023

Lando Norris is ready to create his own history after going toe-to-toe with Lewis Hamilton in a gripping Battle of the Britons at Silverstone on Sunday.

As Max Verstappen raced to a sixth consecutive victory – his eighth from the opening 10 rounds so far to extend his championship lead to a distant 99 points – Norris held off Hamilton to land his first British Grand Prix podium.

A snoozy spectacle in front of a record-breaking 150,000 spectators sprung into life on lap 33 when Kevin Magnussen spluttered to a halt.

Out came the safety car and Hamilton landed an effective free pit stop – bolting on a set of the speediest soft tyres – to move up from a net seventh to third.

Norris was one place up the road in his revamped McLaren. But the 23-year-old was left exposed after his team elected to fit the more durable, but slower, hard rubber on his machine.

As the safety car peeled in at the end of the 38th lap, Norris’ mirrors were suddenly filled with Hamilton’s all-black Mercedes. Norris had 13 laps to keep the seven-time world champion, 38, behind.

The Wellington Straight presented Hamilton with his first opportunity, but Norris jinked to his left in an attempt to break the slipstream.

Hamilton eyed a peak around the outside of Norris’s papaya McLaren at Brooklands, Luffield and into Woodcote but Norris held firm.

Hamilton then moved into Norris’ tow on the run to Copse, but Norris placed his McLaren in the centre of the track to retain the place.

The next lap, Hamilton tried again, this time on Norris’ inside at Luffield and Woodcote and then wheel-to-wheel at 180mph into Copse before he was forced to yield.

That was as close as Hamilton would get with Norris landing his seventh career podium, his maiden on home soil, and first of a troubled season for the talented Glastonbury man.

“This the best podium of my career,” said Norris. “I had never been to a race in Formula One until 2017.

“Until then I had only ever watched it on TV and that started in 2007 and 2008 and seeing Lewis and Fernando (Alonso) at McLaren. Now it is my turn.

“I was seven years old then. Little did I know Lewis would still be here 15 years later, and still going strong. Fair play to him.

“It is an honour to be able to race him, and go up against these guys, who have created history, and have been some of the best that Formula One has ever seen.

“It is special, an honour, and a privilege, and I want to be someone who can join in on those battles and create some of my own history.”

As Verstappen continues to rack up the wins – indeed Sunday’s triumph was the 17th from his last 21 outings – Norris stole the show.

The Monaco-based driver led for the first four-and-a-half laps after he blasted past Verstappen ahead of the opening corner before his late tussle with Hamilton.

Verstappen’s first British Grand Prix win arrives two years after he ended up in the barriers, and then concussed in hospital, following a 180mph collision with Hamilton.

Speaking about Norris, Hamilton said: “Lando is very talented and it is great when you can have close battles like that, and rely on the driver to be hard but fair.

“There was never a moment when we thought we would come together and that is what motor racing is all about – he wanted to hold on to second and I wanted to get that position.

“We will keep our heads down, keep pushing and hopefully we will have more of this moving forwards.”

Norris’ rookie team-mate Oscar Piastri was unfortunate to lose out under the safety car, dropping from third to fourth, with George Russell taking the chequered flag in fifth. Sergio Perez finished sixth after he started a lowly 15th.

Alonso crossed the line in seventh, with Alex Albon enhancing his reputation with a fine drive to eighth for Williams.

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