Lando Norris on McLaren matches: I’m frustrated, I want to win

Watch out for Poults and Rory, if that McLaren slides further down the field Lando Norris maybe swap driving cars with golf balls. Do not laugh. A 15-handicap is not screaming like a major-champion right now. But then Norris has only played golf for two years. And let’s face it, he does not have much time to practice.

Golf is Norris’ great comfort, a place to escape the hassles of a car too slow away from the lights. Norris spent the morning after night before playing 18 holes at Royal Golf Club Bahrain, where he shot a personal best of 87 and then 86.

Gets a nod from Rory McIlroy in the season that ended the Dubai Desert Classic last year, remains a career highlight in the absence of the first Grand Prix victory. Miss a trip to play Augusta National, home of the Masters in January through a positive Covid test, one of his biggest disappointments. “One of the most annoying moments of my life. I had said to all my teammates, ‘I have to play Augusta, it’s going to be great.’ And then I test positive. Arghh. “

He will try again when the F1 circus lands in Miami in May. Until then, Norris, 22, will always have eye contact from McIlroy. He was standing with friends behind the 10th tee when the McIlroy team came through. Like the rest of the assembly, Norris was just thrilled to be in the presence of a global superstar. Yet it was McIlroy who recognized him. Norris unfolds into an intriguing fit as he retells the anecdote in the Saudi fold.

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“I had seen Poulter,” he said. “It was he who got me some tickets. Me and my friends all love golf and played every day we were out there. We wanted to see Rory. He went from the ninth to the tenth. We said, where’s Rory? And then Rory saw me. He looks up, sees me and gives me a nod. It was amazing. My mates were so annoyed. They were like, ‘How does he know you?’ ”

After a positive start on the first day of pre-season testing in Barcelona, Norris warned of the dangers of exaggerating day-1 performance. Had they run the next day, he might well have taken his maiden victory.

“We knew where we could be, but the reality for people at home to see was hard to take,” Norris said.

“There were some strengths in Barcelona. We hit the pitch in a good place because we understood the package. It just took the other teams a little longer to pull something out of the car and they managed to extract more at the end of it. And we knew we would fight for sector three [Barcelona] with many slow turns, which is the same as Bahrain. We’re still working on it. They understand where the car is, what the details are, but getting it right takes time. “

Nevertheless, the temptation to punch a hole in the wall when his rivals and contemporaries at Ferrari and Red Bull, Charles Leclerc and Max Verstappen, fight at the front must be huge. Not so. ‘There is no benefit in doing so. I’m obviously frustrated. I want to win. If I can not win, I will be on the podium, top five, top 10 and if not then top 15. I could not even do that [in Bahrain].

“It’s hard as a driver who wants to be successful in this position. But there’s more to driving than that. It’s about understanding how to be part of a team and how to optimize everything when you’re not can win races. It’s not a good thing for me, but I’m learning and discovering more about how to work and so on. Hopefully it all pays off. “

He impresses with his sense of perspective. He’s a race car driver, right? How bad can it be? “I know. My grief would be a lot of people’s happiness. I just have to win some races!”

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