McLaren’s Lando Norris spoke of how it felt starting in Formula 1 at 19 years of age, all eyes being on him, and the pressure that comes with that.
Norris spoke frankly about mental health on Monday and admitted he had regularly felt depressed early in his Formula 1 career, when he questioned whether he was good enough.
Norris was the youngest British driver in Formula 1 history when he debuted as a 19-year-old in 2019 but, now 21, has become a fan favourite as well as an outstanding talent on track.
He has been on the podium four times this season, nearly taking his first win at last month’s Russian Grand Prix after starting from pole position, and is fourth overall.
The youngster told ITV television’s This Morning programme, however, that it had been tough at first to deal with the pressure.
“Coming into Formula One at 19, there’s a lot of eyes on you. So dealing with all these kind of things, that took its toll on me,” he said.
“Feeling like, I don’t know what’s next, if this goes wrong, if I don’t go out in the next session and perform, what’s going to happen, what’s the outcome of all of this? Am I going to be in Formula One next year?
“If I’m not, what am I going to do? Because I’m not really good at many other things in life.
“So just all of that, and then just feeling depressed a lot of the time that if I have a bad weekend I just think, I’m not good enough and things like that.”
Norris said social media had added to the pressure but working with the team and mental health charity Mind, partnered by McLaren, had helped him through.
“I’m in a much better place now. I’m much happier and I can enjoy everything I do,” said the Briton, whose team mate is Australian Daniel Ricciardo.
Formula 1 will be racing in Turkey on Sunday, which is also World Mental Health Day.
Norris, who has designed a T-shirt for Mind, said he had realised over the past three years how much he could influence others through his position.
“The one thing that makes me happy is seeing other people smile and making them happy… I kind of realise that the more I can do that, the happier I am and the better it is,” he said.