Why Lando Norris's McLaren Autosport BRDC Award test is significant

On Wednesday Lando Norris takes over from Stoffel Vandoorne in the McLaren-Honda in the post-Hungarian Grand Prix Formula 1 test, his prize for winning the 2016 McLaren Autosport BRDC Award

Why Lando Norris's McLaren Autosport BRDC Award test is significant

Over the last 28 years, many British drivers have got their first taste of F1 thanks to winning the Award.

Introduced to identify and assist the best up-and-coming British talents, the Award has helped David Coulthard, Dario Franchitti, Jenson Button, Anthony Davidson and Paul di Resta, among others, to launch successful careers in motorsport.

Since Lewis Williamson won in 2010, the victor has received their F1 drive at Silverstone the following year, during a break from the latest finalists being tested in Formula 2, DTM and GT machinery.

The F1 car in question is always a few years old, with Button's 2011 Canadian GP-winning McLaren MP4-26 being the usual mount recently.

And that's why Norris taking his prize in a current car, in an official F1 test, at the Hungaroring this week, is such a big deal.

The European Formula 3 star's first run in an F1 car actually came in Portugal earlier in the year, but that was essentially to help his preparation for Hungary.

After a revamp of the Award last year, a simulator role at McLaren became part of the prize. Not only is this a good opportunity for the drivers - with sims increasingly becoming part of motorsport - it also gives the Woking squad a chance to assess them further.

Given his abilities in online gaming - Norris is part of one of the best online racing teams in the world - and his outstanding karting and junior racing CV, Norris's pace will not have been in doubt. But the sim work will have helped provide answers to other important questions.

What is his feedback like? Work ethic? Ability to operate within a team? Willingness to learn? These factors, almost as much as speed, determines who will be successful in F1.

The fact McLaren has decided to put the 17-year-old in the McLaren-Honda MCL32, so soon into their relationship, suggests he has passed all the tests with flying colours.

That's not a huge surprise given his performances during the MABA tests at Silverstone last year. More than one judge on the experienced panel was moved to suggest Norris is the best finalist they had seen for years. Perhaps since Button, nearly 20 years ago.

Norris is also one of the standout drivers in F3 this season, only a small error preventing a hat-trick of wins at Spa last weekend. He is currently second in the points, behind third-year driver Maximilian Gunther, who is driving for the Prema team that took Lance Stroll to the 2016 crown.

Norris's career shows no signs of losing momentum and his approach demonstrates a maturity that belies his age. There were times at the test where the other finalists seemed to be trying to rile him, get under his skin, but it made no difference. He delivered in every car.

Button started his F1 career with Williams a mere 15 months after being announced as the 1998 Award winner, after taking the British Formula Ford championship (forerunner of the MSA Formula category Norris won in 2015) and starring in F3.

It's a bit far-fetched to expect Norris to be on the Australian GP grid next March, but all the signs are that he will become an F1 driver.

And more than that, he'll be a star worthy of joining the list at the top of this page.

shares
comments
Hulkenberg calls Magnussen a 'wannabe Verstappen' after 'balls' row

Previous article

Hulkenberg calls Magnussen a 'wannabe Verstappen' after 'balls' row

Next article

Robert Kubica begins Hungary Formula 1 test in 2017 Renault

Robert Kubica begins Hungary Formula 1 test in 2017 Renault
Load comments
The mid-season rule change that has left F1 teams scrambling Plus

The mid-season rule change that has left F1 teams scrambling

The technical directive issued by Formula 1 to reduce levels of automation in pitstops has given teams an unwelcome period of adjustment. Although safety was the primary goal, it has already had a significant impact on the title race and puts extra pressure on teams to deliver as the season reaches the business end

How the pandemic is continuing to bite F1 Plus

How the pandemic is continuing to bite F1

Uncertainty over the shape of the calendar doesn’t just vex the fans and the commercial rights holder. MARK GALLAGHER explains at how race promoters have been pushed to the financial brink

Hamilton at 100 wins: In his adversaries’ words Plus

Hamilton at 100 wins: In his adversaries’ words

Some 18 drivers have finished runner-up to Lewis Hamilton on his way to 100 wins. Three of those recall their battles with Formula 1’s centurion and give their personal insights into the seven-time world champion on his rise to unchartered territory

Formula 1
Sep 27, 2021
Russian Grand Prix Driver Ratings Plus

Russian Grand Prix Driver Ratings

The 2021 Russian GP was decided by late-arriving rain that allowed some to climb and caused others to plummet. But the events which played out beforehand are equally significant when considering the all-important driver ratings

Formula 1
Sep 27, 2021
How Mercedes made the “blind faith” call that won Hamilton his 100 milestone at Sochi Plus

How Mercedes made the “blind faith” call that won Hamilton his 100 milestone at Sochi

Until rain turned the Russian Grand Prix on its head in the closing stages, Lando Norris was set to convert his first Formula 1 pole position into a maiden win. But having recovered well from being shuffled back at the start, Hamilton and his Mercedes team called the changing conditions spot-on for a landmark 100th F1 victory

Formula 1
Sep 27, 2021
Why momentum is again behind Australia’s aces Plus

Why momentum is again behind Australia’s aces

At the Italian Grand Prix Daniel Ricciardo turned around a troubled F1 season and, in F2, Oscar Piastri demonstrated once again that he is a potential star of the future. BEN EDWARDS weighs up the prospects of F1 having two Australian stars

Formula 1
Sep 26, 2021
The tough balancing act facing Schumacher’s Netflix film producers Plus

The tough balancing act facing Schumacher’s Netflix film producers

Michael Schumacher is the latest sporting superstar to get the ‘Netflix treatment’, with a special documentary film airing on the US streaming giant’s platform this month. DAMIEN SMITH has the inside track on how the filmmakers gained access to tell the human story behind one of Formula 1’s most publicity-shy champions - while the man himself, for obvious reasons, is in absentia… 

Formula 1
Sep 25, 2021
The times that suggest Verstappen should be confident of F1 Russian GP recovery Plus

The times that suggest Verstappen should be confident of F1 Russian GP recovery

For the second race in a row, Mercedes has ended the first day of track action on top. It’s in a commanding position at the Russian Grand Prix once again – this time largely thanks to Max Verstappen’s upcoming engine-change grid penalty. But there’s plenty to suggest all hope is not lost for the championship leader at Sochi

Formula 1
Sep 24, 2021