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JA on F1 Podcast: Hill on Norris silencing critics

James Allen is joined by 1996 Formula 1 champion Damon Hill in the latest episode of the JA on F1 Podcast

Damon Hill says Lando Norris has silenced critics following his first Formula 1 victory in Miami.

Speaking ahead of this weekend's British Grand Prix, 1996 world champion Hill stated that Norris breaking through at the 110th attempt will have proven a vocal minority who doubted the McLaren driver's credentials wrong.

In the races since, Norris finished a close second in Imola, Montreal and Barcelona before contact with Red Bull rival Max Verstappen while contesting the lead at the Austrian Grand Prix forced his retirement.

"Lando was keen to silence his critics, who wanted to make an issue of him not having won," Hill said.

"I mean, we're surrounded by criticism today with social media. There isn't a thing you can do that doesn't get criticised in some way, and you mustn't get let that get to you, because you don't want to be defined by people who are determined to diminish you.

"So he did respond to that. And now they can't answer it.

"You might say in the last couple of races, he could have won and didn't. But it is difficult to win a Grand Prix, especially when you've got someone like Max Verstappen, or in my case, I had Michael Schumacher, trying to prevent you.

 

"You can be the best tennis player, you could be Andy Murray. And unfortunately, you've got either [Roger] Federer or [Rafael] Nadal or [Novak] Djokovic, who comes along and you just you've got to get past them to get to the finish line."

George Russell was the beneficiary of the clash between Norris and Verstappen to take a surprise victory for Mercedes at the Red Bull Ring, the second of his career after his maiden win came at the Brazilian GP in 2022.

Hill, the 1994 British Grand Prix winner, added that the two young chargers "both believe they're gifted enough to deliver a championship if they get the opportunity" but had to be prepared for the intensity that comes with fighting for world titles.

"It takes a lot out of you even if you are the very best," he said.

"I remember Michael Schumacher after he equalled [Juan-Manuel] Fangio [by securing a fifth world title at the 2002 French GP], he was in tears. He literally was.

"It takes a lot out of anyone, even if they are the very, very best driver to keep doing this and keep delivering exceptional performances every time.

"What would it take for someone like Lando or George? They need the car.

"You could argue that Lando's got the car now; I don't think it's better than the Red Bull, but I think it's possibly as good.

"He's going to need a bit more than that, I think from the car to be able to reduce the deficit to Max and stop Max winning.

"That's the only way you're going to turn this into a close championship by the end."

Hill is riding the Etape of the Tour de France, raising awareness and funds for Neuro UK, this Saturday.

You can find out how to support him on the charity's fundraising page here.

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