Miami GP: McLaren’s Lando Norris pips Verstappen in career’s first F1 win

Briton Lando Norris, who won the race in his 110th attempt, says it was about time he finished first on the podium.

McLaren driver Lando Norris celebrates with his team after winning the F1 Miami Grand Prix at Miami International Autodrome [Peter Casey/USA Today Sports via Reuters]Published On 6 May 20246 May 2024

McLaren’s Lando Norris has won the first Formula One race of his career with a shock victory over world champion Max Verstappen in the Miami Grand Prix.

Breathing life into an F1 season that risked becoming a one-man story again, Norris, in his 110th race for McLaren, beat Verstappen by more than seven seconds, with Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc finishing third.

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Verstappen, who began on pole, had won four of the opening five races of the season and leads the world championship standings.

It looked like business as usual with the Dutchman, who had won the previous two Miami races, leading until lap 24 when he pitted and Norris’s McLaren teammate Oscar Piastri took the lead.

Australian Piastri himself went into the pits four laps later, allowing Norris to grab the lead and the British driver never looked back.

Crucially, Norris was able to pit during a safety car on lap 30, earning him a valuable time advantage which he never relinquished.

The safety car came after Kevin Magnussen clipped Logan Sargeant, sending the American Williams driver into the wall and bringing a yellow flag.

Norris, who had 15 podiums before his first win, took full advantage of the safety car and with Verstappen struggling to catch up, he secured his maiden victory.

It was the first time Verstappen had been beaten on track when he finished the race since Ferrari’s Carlos Sainz won in Singapore in September last year.

Norris was hoisted in the air by the McLaren mechanics as his long wait for a victory in the sport came to an end.

“About time huh?” said Norris, “I knew on Friday that we had the pace … today we managed to put it together. We had the perfect strategy. It all paid off,” he added.

“I guess a lot of people doubted me along the way. I’ve made a lot of mistakes over the last five years, my short career, but today we pulled it all together, so this is all for the team.

“I stuck with McLaren because I could believe in them and I did believe in them and today proved exactly that,” he added.

Pulling into the pit lane Norris was mobbed by his team, congratulated by the other drivers and cheered by a massive crowd at the Miami International Autodrome.

‘He deserves it’

The nearest Norris had come previously to winning a Grand Prix was in Sochi, Russia in 2021 when he led in the latter stages before failing to make a tyre change early in the rain, costing him dearly.

Verstappen, who had complained about lack of grip in qualification and during Sunday’s race, said his Red Bull had been unable to keep up with Norris once the McLaren driver switched to hard tyres.

“They just had more pace, Lando was flying. It was incredibly difficult for us, but on the bad days P2, I’ll take it right?

“I’m very happy for Lando, it’s been a long time coming and it’s not going to be his last one. He definitely deserves it,” said the Dutchman.

Leclerc echoed those sentiments.

“Very often he ran very close to it, but for one reason or another, he didn’t make it. But today he did an incredible job, and the whole weekend he has been on it,” said the Ferrari driver.

As in the first two years of the Miami Grand Prix, held around Hard Rock Stadium, the home of the NFL’s Miami Dolphins, the race attracted plenty of celebrities.

Former France international footballer and coach Zinedine Zidane, singer Ed Sheeran, Super Bowl-winning quarterback Patrick Mahomes and former US President Donald Trump were among those spotted at the race. Trump visited the McLaren garage before the race.

Trump, who visited the McLaren garage prior to the race, was delighted to back a winner, telling Norris later he was his lucky charm.

“He saw me after and he came to congratulate me,” said Norris, who had told his grandmother before coming to Miami that he was going to win a race.

Norris’s parents were ecstatic, though they weren’t in Miami to witness the moment.

McLaren pit crew members celebrate after Lando Norris’s win [Rebecca Blackwell/AP]

“The cider’s flowing in Somerset! A big celebration,” Adam Norris told Sky Sports. “I was working out it’s probably about 900 races I’ve been to over the last 16 years.

“It’s brilliant. So happy for him.”

Anthony Hamilton, another father instrumental in the success of his son – seven times world champion Lewis – also texted Norris congratulations.

Norris was still finalising plans on how he was going to celebrate his maiden victory, but he was already thinking about a second win.

“This only happens once when you take your first win. Tonight is going to be a good night,” said Norris, confirming team boss Zak Brown had delayed the flight home until Monday so there would be a proper celebration.

Source: News Agencies