Damon Hill singles out driver ‘for the future’ who will be a ‘championship winner’

Michelle Foster
Damon Hill in the paddock. in Sao Paulo.

1996 World Champion Damon Hill walks through the paddock.

Although Lando Norris has yet to win a Grand Prix, his tally up to 13 podiums without a win, Damon Hill believes with “the right opportunity, the right situation” he can win an F1 World title.

Recording seven podium results during the 2023 championship, Norris equalled Nick Heidfeld’s record for the most podiums but without a P1 in the collection with 13 in total.

With his seventh top-three result of the season coming at the Brazilian Grand Prix where he was second to Max Verstappen, he admitted: “P2 is as good as we can get nowadays and for the time being, but very happy for the rest of it.”

Damon Hill backs Lando Norris to win a World title

However, his days of being runner-up to Verstappen, or anyone else for that matter, will soon be over according to 1996 World Champion Hill.

“I think he’s in the top tier,” he told Sky Sports before clarifying that the “very top tier is Lewis and Max and then there’s a very close collection of drivers who are very, very good.

“He is the one that you’d look at and say ‘okay, in the right opportunity, the right situation, he’s a championship winner, without a question a Grand Prix winner’.

“I know he hasn’t done one yet but he’s going to isn’t he? They just need to give him a bit more speed in that McLaren.”

Whether McLaren can do that next season, only time will tell, with Hill applauding the Woking team for their in-season gains.

Having been woefully off the pace in the opening rounds of the 2023 championship, McLaren introduced a B-spec car in Austria before putting another big upgrade on the track in Singapore.

They outscored every team barring Red Bull in the second half of the season to finish fourth in the standings.

“It’s been it’s been a real surprise, honestly, because we’ve seen teams struggling in the midfield and they kind of constantly talking about making progress and they never do, do they?” said Hill.

“McLaren have actually done it.

“They’ve actually taken something that was wrong and they fixed it and they’ve gone off in the other direction.

“And they’ve built on that and got a great team there and a lot of confidence in the team for the future.”

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Hill isn’t the only former F1 driver backing Norris to win a Grand Prix, if not a World title.

Speaking to the F1 Nation podcast, Pedro de la Rosa said he believes it’s only a matter of time but urged the Briton not to overdrive as he pushes for that first P1.

“I think that what is costing him is the shadow of his first win,” he said. “You know, he’s pushing just because he needs, he wants, he deserves that first win in F1 – and he’s just not driving with that needed timing.

“It will come to him, he has the quality, it’s no problem, but I think that he just needs to pace himself at one point in during the weekend – there’s always a point that he’s overdriving.

“I don’t think he’s under pressure from Oscar. Oscar is very good, he’s obviously a strong teammate, but he doesn’t seem fazed by him.

“He just has this anxiety about ‘I need to win, and I want to win quickly’.”

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