Lando Norris’ grief adds to curious trend
Lando Norris saw a first-career Formula 1 victory fade in the final laps of the Russian Grand Prix last Sunday at Sochi Autodrom.
The final laps of the 2021 Russian Grand Prix saw a mix of emotions for most neutral Formula 1 fans. As Lewis Hamilton claimed his 100th career victory, young McLaren Lando Norris lost what would have been his first career victory after a superb training.
Norris commanded the race with the lights off and was able to establish himself as the lead driver throughout the race.
As Hamilton managed to climb to second place and caught up with Norris, the McLaren driver didn’t flinch and looked poised for the win until the rain started to fall in Sochi Autodrom.
Mercedes brought Hamilton to the pits for intermediate tires on lap 49, and with every corner the seven-time world champion caught up with Norris until Norris tragically slipped off the track at corner seven.
Norris lost not only his head, but any chance of getting on the podium.
This meant Hamilton claimed his 100th career victory, with title rival Max Verstappen in second place after starting in 20th (last) place on the grid. Carlos Sainz Jr. landed another podium for Ferrari in third.
As for Norris, it was heartbreaking as he led most of the race and seemed to be in total control until the change of conditions led to a different result.
After the race, Norris was devastated by the result and told Sky Sports F1 what follows.
“We have called to stay out and we stand by it. It wasn’t right at the end of the day, but I made the decision just as much as the team.
But that’s not the only recent example of a young Charger being denied victory after appearing ready to win.
Dubbed the ‘Twitch Quartet’ of Formula 1 for their efforts during the COVID-19 lockdown, Norris joins George Russell, Alex Albon and Charles Leclerc in losing potential early wins.
It was not until last December that George Russell lost the Grand Prix to Sakhir replacing Hamilton at Mercedes. Russell beat teammate Valtteri Bottas at the start and comfortably led the race before a botched pit stop left him in order.
The Briton then climbed back up to second and searched for future race winner Sergio Perez until he had a flat tire, which brought him down in order. He recovered to finish in ninth place.
Albon was denied victory when he made contact with Hamilton at the end of the 2020 Austrian Grand Prix. The Red Bull Racing driver at the time was fitted with better tires than the Mercedes ahead of him and was ready to go. overtake both Hamilton for second place, then Bottas for the lead and victory. But contact with Hamilton meant the Thai-British runner was denied the victory.
It followed another disappointing race for Albon, when Hamilton crashed into the side of his car at the end of the 2019 Brazilian Grand Prix as he contemplated what would have been his first career podium.
The quartet of first failed Formula 1 victories is crowned by the infamous failure of Charles Leclerc who denied him victory at the 2019 Bahrain Grand Prix.
In his second race only for Ferrari, the Monegasque driver dominated the race against his teammate Sebastian Vettel before a spark plug failure caused him to lose power in the last 15 laps.
The two Mercedes drivers passed Leclerc, who held on to finish third and secure a career debut podium, but it was bittersweet after what had been a superb weekend.
Wins later in the season in the Belgian Grand Prix and the Italian Grand Prix ahead of worshiper Tifosi likely made up for that disappointment, but it was far from the path Leclerc wanted.
So, with the heartbreaking way Norris lost a potential first career victory, it’s curious that when the opportunity first presented itself to these four future superstars, for some reason, the moment passed them.
Leclerc is already a two-time race winner, and Norris and Russell are also set for Formula 1 stardom, but the contrast to Max Verstappen when he won the 2016 Spanish Grand Prix is obvious and could be interesting because these high level pilots compete for victories and championships in the years to come.