Lando Norris aiming to upstage Lewis Hamilton in British GP battle

Lando Norris is fired up for a fight at this weekend’s British Grand Prix, confident that with the right machinery he can take on the world champion, Lewis Hamilton. The McLaren driver is enjoying the best season of his career heading into Silverstone and expects to revel in the atmosphere as the race hosts a full capacity crowd, the largest UK sporting event since the pandemic began.

Norris, in only his third season in Formula One, has stepped up to another level with a resurgent McLaren this season. He is the only driver to have scored points in every race so far, stands fourth in the drivers’ championship and has three podiums, including a third place at the last round in Austria.

Having delivered an outstanding lap to take second on the grid at the Red Bull Ring, he went wheel to wheel with Hamilton for 15 laps, repeatedly denying the world champion a chance to pass. Such was his skill and battling spirit that when Hamilton did finally get by he immediately praised the 21-year-old telling his Mercedes team: “Such a great driver, Lando.”

Infatti, Norris could have taken a career-best second place in the race but for a time penalty imposed when duelling with Sergio Pérez. Heading into his home grand prix, Norris was confident he could once more race the best. Hamilton is in a tight battle with Red Bull’s Max Verstappen for the title, trailing the Dutchman by 32 points, but he may expect a stiff challenge from Norris at Silverstone as well.

“I feel like if I am in that position next time I know I am able to do it,” he said of racing Hamilton. “After lap five I thought: ‘Oh no, he is going to come past me next lap.’ But then you keep going and I thought: ‘I am doing well here, I can keep him behind.’ I know if I am in that situation again and the speed difference is the same again I feel more confident. It sets you up for the next time it happens and you have the confidence you can do it again.”

Norris also acknowledged that his first genuine battle with Hamilton was a special experience. “It was the first time I was really racing against Lewis for more than one corner like in the past," Egli ha detto. “It’s a different feeling because he is the best for a reason, not just because he is quick round a track, he is good at defending and attacking. Yet I felt like I was very capable of holding him off for 15 laps.”

On Sunday Norris was mugged after leaving the Euro 2020 final at Wembley. He was unharmed but his watch was stolen. However the McLaren driver has put the incident behind him, instead focusing on the task at Silverstone and welcoming the return of fans to the event, con più di 140,000 expected on race day.

“Seeing the fans puts a smile on your face,” he said “It makes you think more positively, more excited more hungry to want to do well, it definitely does motivate you to want to do that little bit better.”

For all of his success Norris remains decidedly down to earth. He lives in West Byfleet, close to the McLaren headquarters, preferring his proximity to the team to the vulgar lure of Monaco to which so many fellow drivers succumb. He plays golf and barbecues with team members with whom he enjoys a close relationship and while he does find himself being recognised more in public, he remains happy to stop and give fans some of his time.

Yet Norris admits he still finds the attention he attracts as one of F1’s brightest rising stars, which will be writ large in banners at Silverstone, remains an experience he has yet to quite come to terms with.

“It’s still weird," Egli ha detto. “I just drive a car that’s all and try and do well and perform for the team. To have so many people supporting you and wanting you to do well … It’s weird to think of it like that but it is a really cool bonus to have.”

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