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.

Norris column: Kicking off my F3 career with a home win
Podium: third place Lando Norris, Carlin, Dallara F317 - Volkswagen
Lando Norris, Carlin, Dallara F317 - Volkswagen
Jake Dennis, Carlin, Dallara F317 - Volkswagen and Lando Norris, Carlin, Dallara F317 - Volkswagen in parc ferme
Lando Norris, Carlin, Dallara F317 - Volkswagen
Podium: Race winner Lando Norris, Carlin, Dallara F317 – Volkswagen
Lando Norris, Carlin, Dallara F317 - Volkswagen
Lando Norris, Carlin, Dallara F317 - Volkswagen
Lando Norris, Carlin, Dallara F317 - Volkswagen
Lando Norris, Carlin, Dallara F317 - Volkswagen
Lando Norris, Carlin, Dallara F317 - Volkswagen leads, Nikita Mazepin, Hitech Grand Prix, Dallara F317 - Mercedes-Benz spins
Lando Norris, Carlin, Dallara F317 – Volkswagen
Rookie Podium: first place Lando Norris, Carlin, Dallara F317 - Volkswagen, second place Jehan Daruvala, Carlin, Dallara F317 - Volkswagen , third place Joey Mawson, Van Amersfoort Racing, Dallara F317 – Mercedes-Benz
Lando Norris, Carlin, Dallara F317 - Volkswagen
Lando Norris, Carlin, Dallara F317 - Volkswagen

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.

Lando

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