Norris column: Kicking off my F3 career with a home win
Rising single-seater star Lando Norris recalls how his European Formula 3 career kicked off with a race win at Silverstone in the first of a new series of columns for Motorsport.com.
It was pretty cool to begin the year – and my first full season in F3 – with a win. Carlin has worked very hard over the winter to prove the car is good enough to win after a pretty poor last year for the team.
Now we’ve a great line-up of drivers, everyone is motivated, and to get a one-two with Jake Dennis was a big relief for the whole team. It made everyone smile and gives us a good vibe moving forwards.
I knew from our pace in practice that we could aim for the top positions in qualifying, and pretty quickly I felt very confident with the car, especially in the high-speed corners. In Q1, my third flying lap was pretty decent and I thought that would be good enough for pole, and at that point it was.
But then I was told on the radio Callum Ilott had gone another one and a half tenths faster. So I did a cool-down lap and went for it again for another two laps, putting everything into it.
I risked quite a lot, especially in the high-speed – and in the end it paid off as I beat Ilott by just six thousandths of a second!
On the other hand, I thought I did a fairly bad job in Q2, to be honest. My optimal lap was the fastest, but I didn’t perform well at all, making a lot of small mistakes that added up. I was pretty surprised to be P2 in the end, because I had the potential to go a fairly big chunk faster.
Leading a Carlin one-two
The start of race one was tricky, as it was spitting before the start of the race but it wasn’t wet enough for wet tyres – so we all started on slicks behind the Safety Car.
On the first racing lap I went into Turn 1 not knowing at all what to expect; I was pushing very hard and I had a pretty big moment. Then I managed to break a bit of a gap, pulled away from Callum, and as I went round T2, I saw Callum spin in my mirrors.
I didn’t see him go into the gravel, I didn’t know if he was able to continue, but halfway round the lap I saw the safety car and got told it was for Callum.
That took some of the pressure off my shoulders, but I had to stay focused on the restarts and keeping up the tyre temperature to be able to pull away – it definitely wasn’t as easy as it looked!
Disappointment in race two
I was starting from second in the other two races, and neither of them went according to plan, especially at the start. But I knew it would be hard to make a good start in Race 2, because the right-hand side of the grid where I was starting was completely wet and in the shadow of the pit building.
So I knew I’d drop places heading into Turn 1, but even then my start wasn’t as good as it could have been. I just got too much wheelspin, I dropped down quite a bit and used the tyres up too much trying to make up for my bad start.
I was pretty fast but as soon as you start catching someone you lose downforce and I started to struggle with the front tyres. At best it could have been a top six, but I ended up losing a position on the last two laps and in the end I was only ninth.
Finishing off with a podium
In Race 3 I didn’t get a good start again, which was all down to me this time. I dropped down to sixth but at Brooklands on the first lap I managed to get back past Jake and Jehan Daruvala in one corner, which was pretty cool.
I was up to fourth behind Maxi Gunther, and I was definitely faster and able to pressure him until he made a mistake at Maggots and Becketts that I capitalised on to move up into third after going side-by-side with him at Stowe and Vale.
I caught Eriksson within a couple of laps, but because I used up my tyres to overtake Maxi, I couldn’t even attempt an overtake. So I settled for third, which I was pretty happy with after the start.
Going into the weekend, I would have been very happy with ending up third in the points with a win. But knowing the pace we had during the weekend, I knew there was more potential. If the start had been dry in Race 2, I know my pace was good enough to win, but it’s not how it turned out.
Now we go to Monza, which will be a bit of step into the unknown for us as we haven’t run this new spec of car in low-downforce yet. The slipstream will play a big part, it’s very difficult to just pull away.
But the pace was good at Silverstone and I’m confident the team will do a good job again. We’ll have to wait and see, but I’m confident we can get some more good results.
Carlin set to replace Dennis after Pau F3 round
Ilott says Silverstone not a reliable F3 form guide