F1 drivers react to Norris’ first win in Miami: ‘It’s been a long time coming’

MIAMI GARDENS, Fla. — A smile continued to creep onto Lando Norris’ face during the post-race media sessions.

His first victory in Formula 1 was long overdue. He came close a couple of times, only to be foiled by small mistakes, such as at Qatar 2023, and by things outside his control, such as rain and strategy calls from Sochi 2021. He joined the F1 grid in 2019 with McLaren as 19 The Briton, just twenty years old and now in his sixth season and ahead of the Miami Grand Prix weekend, had secured a pole position, stood on the podium 15 times and had completed over 6,000 laps.

As each driver stopped in the media corral for interviews, nearly everyone hit the same point: It’s time.

Fernando Alonso predicted that this would be “the first of many victories” for Lando Norris. (Kym Illman/Getty Images)

“Congratulations to Lando,” said Fernando Alonso. “First victory after many podiums. I’m really happy for him. I hope he (remembers) this day, the first of many victories. The Aston Martin driver wasn’t the only one who made it clear that this wouldn’t be the final victory for the 24-year-old. Max Verstappen said: “I am very happy for Lando. Has been a long time. And he won’t be the last. “He deserves it today.”

The victory came at a crucial moment for the sport. In the last 28 Grands Prix, Red Bull has won all but two races, Singapore 2023 and Australia 2024, both won by Ferrari’s Carlos Sainz. Verstappen remained essentially unchallenged, building a decent lead race after race. But in Miami this weekend, McLaren took advantage of the opportunity it had to beat Red Bull in a head-to-head duel. When Norris took over Verstappen after the safety cars, it became a matter of new tires and clean air to beat an incredibly fast car.

“I’m very happy for Lando. Has been a long time. And it won’t be the last. He deserves it today,” said Max Verstappen (left) of Lando Norris (right). (Giorgio Viera/AFP)

“He deserves a race win probably many, many years ago,” said Mercedes’ George Russell. “And I think for all Formula 1 drivers in this era of one team and one driver dominance, it’s always nice to see someone have a chance to get a win.”

Norris started last year’s Miami GP 16th and finished 17th for a struggling McLaren, which turned its season around in the second half of 2023. Now, he has his first win in three years. Oscar Piastri said he was “very happy for (Norris) and for the whole team, and I think we deserve it. “Our trajectory over the last 12 months has been towards this moment.”

Lewis Hamilton recalled his first F1 victory, also with McLaren, in 2007. The team still has “a big part of my heart”, he said, and he was happy to see them win again. The Woking crew’s last F1 victory was with Daniel Ricciardo at the 2021 Italian Grand Prix.

Before doing post-race interviews, it is traditional for riders to speak briefly with their team, giving them a pat on the helmet or back. Norris, however, launched himself over the barrier with joy, and members of the McLaren crew are equally happy to embrace their new race winner. The emotion was overflowing.

“I’m really happy for Lando. As much as we all want to beat each other and come out on top, it’s always exciting to see so much emotion in one of your competitors,” said Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc. “We all grew up together. “I remember watching Lando when he was in KF3, and we all had the same dream of becoming a Formula One driver one day.”

Norris is no stranger to the hate, memes and nicknames like “Lando No Wins” popping up on social media as people discuss his record. But the Briton says the words of those closest to him carry more meaning and he thanked his competitors for their praise and support. In the parc fermé and in the media enclosure, several drivers hugged Norris, congratulating him on this moment that he will probably remember forever.

“As much as when you put the helmet on, you hate them and you want to beat them, and you don’t care who’s who, I’ve always had respect for the people I’ve competed against. So when someone comes [to me]especially people who have achieved a lot, because it always means something more,” Norris said. “So when Lewis, Fernando, Max, Charles, Carlos, every time they approach you or people have good words for you, I really appreciate those things. Because from these people, it means something.

“These people, they are the people who know what it takes to get these types of things done for the work, the time, the effort it takes to do something like this.”

(Main photo by Lando Norris and George Russell: Giorgio Viera / AFP)