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lando norris mexico city driver of the day f1 mclaren

Norris: I didn’t think I would get back to P5

lando norris mexico city driver of the day f1 mclaren

Lando Norris thoroughly deserved the Driver of the Day award after a challenging 2023 Mexico City Grand Prix, in which the McLaren driver delivered a gritty display to finish fifth.

Starting P17 after a Qualifying gaffe, Norris had it all to do on the day in the ‘two races’ of high attrition and intense tyre management, in front of a 400k sellout crowd on Sunday at Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez.

In Part 1 of the race, starting downfield, Norris was the first to pit on lap 10 from P14. He emerged with work to do. By lap 30, shortly before the race was red-flagged after Kevin Magnussen pranged his Haas heavily exiting the final turn. The McLaren was among the top ten for the restart.

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‘Race 2’ did not go as planned at the start for Norris who explained to Sky F1 after the race: “The restart we didn’t get right. We struggled a bit with power unit temperatures, so I couldn’t get the tyres and things in the correct window for the restart. I paid the price a little bit.

“I then had to avoid some incidents and back out on the straight. After that, I just stayed calm and got the tyres into a good window and went from there. It was enjoyable, I didn’t think I would get back to P5, so encouraged pace from the car.”

Norris: I played the overtakes well

Fórmula 1: Verstappen ganó el Gran Premio de México e igualó un histórico récord de Alain Prost Norris: I played the overtakes well

Dropping down the order it took Norris until lap 45 to appear in the top ten again. And thereafter he delivered a masterful display of driving. Benefitting from other driver shenanigans ahead of him (aka Yuki Tusnoda tantrum) and a sporting free pass by teammate Oscar Piastri, having a more subdued race, helped Lando on his way.

By lap 60 of 71, Norris was up to seventh and the fastest man on track barring eventual race winner Max Verstappen in the Red Bull. He then made easy work of a resurgent AlphaTauri’s Daniel Ricciardo and Mercedes driver George Russell to take fifth on lap 68.

Norris reiterated: “The pace was very strong. I was a long way out of position. Boxing onto the hard and undercutting seven or eight cars was a nice thing. The Safety Car and the red flag almost came into my hands a little bit because I could then go onto the mediums.

“I played the overtakes well and put them in awkward positions, managed to get past them all quickly. The main thing was staying out of trouble and it all paid off.

Stella: One we’ll remember for a long time

Lando Norris says overtaking 34-year-old was his favourite move of the Mexican Grand Prix - Stella: One we’ll remember for a long time

“I wish I was further up and I think I could have challenged for some silverware,” concluded Norris, who also said he was happy with his drive because much of what he felt he was bad at, and thus worked on to improve (eg. tyre management) came to good use on the day.

McLaren F1 boss Andrea Stella, who has worked with the likes of Fernando Alonso in the past, was full of praise for his driver: “On Lando’s side, not only was it one of his best races, but also one of the best races I have been part of.

“His first stint, from P17 on the grid, was excellent, overtaking with great pace. We pitted him under the Safety Car believing this would put him in a very strong position, and then he lost out with the Red Flag.

“When we further lost out at the restart down to P14, we thought points were gone today, but Lando managed to overtake all cars up to a P5 finish in 30 laps. This is one we’ll remember for a long time,” declared Stella.

With 14 points scored on the day, McLaren lost ground to Ferrari in third in the 2023 F1 Constructors’ World Championship, but further cemented themselves into fourth place, on a weekend Aston Martin scored none and dropped further behind.

Result of the 2023 Mexican Grand Prix ‘Driver of the Day’ as voted by F1 fans:

  1. Lando Norris – 29.5%
  2. Daniel Ricciardo – 21.6%
  3. Lewis Hamilton – 12.2%
  4. Sergio Perez – 8.3%
  5. Max Verstappen – 7.5%