Norris opens up on mental health struggles during debut F1 season

Lando Norris has opened up on live television to the scale of the mental health difficulties he faced when he first arrived in Formula 1, admitting he was often depressed.

Norris opens up on mental health struggles during debut F1 season

The McLaren driver, who came close to winning the recent Russian Grand Prix, says that the jovial image that he has carried with him throughout his career does not tell the true story of feelings he had a few years ago.

He added that he carried doubts that he was good enough for F1 during his rookie campaign, and explains that this had a big impact on him.

Speaking live on ITV show This Morning, Norris explained how the reality of what drivers go through behind the scenes can be a world away from what fans think they experience.

“I guess people, from when they just watch TV, don't realise many things that a driver goes through,” he said.

“And it's a bit of shame, but there are more programmes now where you get to see what the driver is like behind the scenes, and the amount of pressure and stress that they have to cope with.

“Especially at my age, coming into Formula 1 at 19, there's a lot of eyes on you. So, dealing with all these kinds of things, took its toll on me.”

Norris said that the immense pressure to perform to ensure that he didn’t blow his first opportunity in F1 was hard to battle with.

“[It was] feeling like I don't know what's next?” he said. “If this goes wrong, if I don't go out in the next session and perform, what's going to happen?

“What's the outcome of all of this? Am I going to be in Formula 1 next year, if I'm not? What am I going to do because I'm not really good at many other things in life?

“So, just all of that, and then just feeling depressed a lot of the time that if I have a bad weekend, I just think I'm not good enough and things like that.

 

Photo by: Andy Hone / Motorsport Images

“When they start adding up over the season, and then the social media side of it all, that can just really start to hurt you.”

Norris says that a combination of support from his McLaren team, plus working with mental health charity Mind, has helped him get in to a much better place now.

“We partner with Mind, which have helped me massively, and also helped many other people in McLaren, but also just in the world in general,” he said.

“So speaking to McLaren, speaking to the people that are around me and my friends that I trust, and, also Mind, I'm in a much better place now. I’m much happier and I can enjoy everything I do.”

Norris is heading to this weekend’s Turkish Grand Prix off the back of McLaren’s win in Monza and his pole in Russia.

However, he says that the team is keeping expectations in check as it is well aware it still does not have a car that can match pace setters Mercedes and Red Bull at all tracks.

“There's obviously a lot of expectation on us at the moment because of Monza, where we had a 1-2, and last weekend I had pole position and almost won the race.

“So a lot of people are expecting amazing things. But we have to limit them in a way because we're still realistically not as quick as Mercedes and Red Bull, which are the leading two teams at the moment.

"We still have a lot of work to do but every race is an opportunity.”

shares
comments

Related video

Schumacher: Haas doesn’t need experienced reserve driver
Previous article

Schumacher: Haas doesn’t need experienced reserve driver

Next article

Allison on board as Mercedes F1 hoists push on America’s Cup

Allison on board as Mercedes F1 hoists push on America’s Cup
Load comments
The “glorified taxi” driver central to F1’s continued safety push Plus

The “glorified taxi” driver central to F1’s continued safety push

As the driver of Formula 1’s medical car, Alan van der Merwe’s job is to wait – and hope his skills aren’t needed. JAMES NEWBOLD hears from F1’s lesser-known stalwarts

Formula 1
Jan 15, 2022
When BMW added F1 'rocket fuel' to ignite Brabham's 1983 title push Plus

When BMW added F1 'rocket fuel' to ignite Brabham's 1983 title push

There was an ace up the sleeve during the 1983 F1 title-winning season of Nelson Piquet and Brabham. It made a frontrunning car invincible for the last three races to see off Renault's Alain Prost and secure the combination's second world title in three years

Formula 1
Jan 13, 2022
How “abysmal” reliability blunted Brabham’s first winner Plus

How “abysmal” reliability blunted Brabham’s first winner

Brabham’s first world championship race-winning car was held back by unreliable Climax engines – or so its creators believed, as STUART CODLING explains

Formula 1
Jan 10, 2022
The steps Norris took to reach a new level in F1 2021 Plus

The steps Norris took to reach a new level in F1 2021

Lando Norris came of age as a grand prix driver in 2021. McLaren’s young ace is no longer an apprentice or a quietly capable number two – he’s proved himself a potential winner in the top flight and, as STUART CODLING finds out, he’s ready to stake his claim to greatness…

Formula 1
Jan 9, 2022
The original F1 maestro who set the bar for Schumacher and Hamilton Plus

The original F1 maestro who set the bar for Schumacher and Hamilton

Juan Manuel Fangio, peerless on track and charming off it, established the gold standard of grand prix greatness. NIGEL ROEBUCK recalls a remarkable champion

Formula 1
Jan 8, 2022
How Russell sees his place in the Mercedes-Hamilton F1 superteam Plus

How Russell sees his place in the Mercedes-Hamilton F1 superteam

George Russell joining Lewis Hamilton at Mercedes this year gives it arguably the best line-up in Formula 1 – if it can avoid too many fireworks. After serving his apprenticeship at Williams, Russell is the man that Mercedes team believes can lead it in the post-Hamilton era, but how will he fare against the seven-time champion? Autosport heard from the man himself

Formula 1
Jan 6, 2022
How F1 pulled off its second pandemic season and its 2022 implications Plus

How F1 pulled off its second pandemic season and its 2022 implications

OPINION: The Formula 1 season just gone was the second to be completed under the dreaded shadow of the COVID-19 pandemic, but in many ways it was much more ‘normal’ than 2020. Here’s the story of how the championship’s various organisers delivered a second challenging campaign, which offers a glimpse at what may be different next time around

Formula 1
Jan 5, 2022
The adapt or die mentality that will shape F1's future Plus

The adapt or die mentality that will shape F1's future

As attitudes towards the motor car and what powers it change, Formula 1 must adapt its offering. MARK GALLAGHER ponders the end of fossil fuels

Formula 1
Jan 3, 2022