Formula 1’s top drivers have rallied around Lando Norris following the Russian GP heartbreak that the young Brit admitted still “hurts, so badly”, claiming he was met with a “worst nightmare” situation and insisting he will secure his first win sooner rather than later.
In one of the most gut-wrenching conclusions to an F1 race on Sunday, Norris slid off the track and dropped from first to seventh, with him and McLaren made to pay for staying out on dry tyres as heavy rain fell at Sochi.
He told Sky F1 immediately after the race that he was “devastated” before posting on social media later in the evening: “It hurts, so badly.
“Pain for me and pain for the team. We lost this together. I feel so bad, will do for a while probably, it’s just how much it means.”
Norris’ Russian GP went from perfection to agony all because of the late rain, which left him and McLaren in an incredibly difficult position.
Norris and Lewis Hamilton were locked in a nail-biting fight for victory, one that neither driver wanted to leave by pitting for wet tyres even though the rain was getting heavier. McLaren did not overrule Norris – wanting to keep track position in the lead – but Mercedes did with Hamilton, and that ultimately proved a masterstroke as the heavens opened.
Norris slowly spun off the track as he lost out on a maiden F1 victory, while Hamilton came through on intermediates to take his 100th.
There was sympathy for Norris across the paddock afterwards.
“It is every driver’s worst nightmare, leading a race and the rain starts coming down,” said George Russell, his fellow Brit and good friend, who will be joining Hamilton at Mercedes next season.
And there was also confidence that Norris, who has looked like a win contender a few times this season, would bounce back.
“I feel really bad for him,” added Russell. “I have been there, I know how it feels. He will have plenty more victories to come.”
Hamilton, meanwhile, paid tribute to the “incredible” Norris and stated he would “for sure” get another chance to triumph.
“He’s so young,” said Hamilton, 36, of his 21-year-old countryman. “He’s got so many more wins up ahead of him. He did a fantastic job yesterday in the wet. He’s doing a great job leading that team.”
Norris: I will come back stronger and better… I know it
Charles Leclerc, who like Norris also stayed out on track on medium tyres, continued: “I can imagine what he’s feeling because also he’s part of the decision process and he might feel very, very guilty.”
“But he’s an amazing driver. I think he has shown it very often this season. He has had a very strong season and I’m sure he will he will learn from it. It’s just a matter of time before his first win.”
Keep your head up mate. That W is coming. 👊
— George Russell (@GeorgeRussell63)
Norris is indeed enjoying a superb third season in F1, running fourth in the championship and claiming four podiums, having never previously finished in the top three before 2021.
“I’m sure once I’ve got this frustration and disappointment out the way, I’ll look at the positives of this whole weekend,” Norris told Sky F1. “But when you’re fighting for a win, you don’t want to just think about the positives and forget about the negatives.”
Norris did, however, add on Instagram later on Sunday: “I, and we, will come back stronger and better.
“I know it.”
This content was originally published here.