Ask ‘Last Lap Lando’ where he has improved this season, and the McLaren reckons he has found a better balance between “waiting” and “aggression”.
Lando Norris began this year’s championship with a maiden Formula 1 podium, taking third place at the Austrian Grand Prix.
That was largely down to his final lap exploits.
The McLaren driver put in a fastest lap of the race on the very last lap, gaining the margin he needed to leapfrog Lewis Hamilton in the classification by some 0.197s.
One week later it wasn’t a podium but it was another epic final lap from the British driver, who passed three cars in the final two laps to take fifth.
In Hungary his last lap pass only earned him a 13th place on a weekend in which McLaren struggled a bit more for form, but at least that pass added his growing tally of audacious moves.
“I never came into the season expecting something like it,” he told ESPN.
“The positive thing about that is having the results that we got through maximising every other opportunity that we could, being in the right place at the right time.
“I was never in this position last year – that was Carlos in Brazil, for example, being there when it mattered and when it counted and so on.
“The racing side of things was not my strong point, it wasn’t the thing I went into Sunday knowing ‘I’ve got to do this, I’ve got to do this, and everything will be fine’. That was the thing I worked on most the whole winter.
“[Last year] I probably would have been more keen to push and try and do better at the start of the race, not see the big picture.
“Being in the moment of ‘I need to catch this guy what’s my next thing?’ Do I save my tyres? Do I go to a two-stop?
“Thinking about these other things which last year I wouldn’t have done, wouldn’t have thought what to do in this scenario or maximising a scenario I’m in.”
“I’ve done a better much job in waiting, coming through making the moves I need to, having the aggression I need. That was nice for me to see on the confidence side of things.
“That’s all good but at the same time it doesn’t mean my race is perfect and it’s sorted and I can just focus on other things. There’s lots of other things I can do better and try and improve on.”
Tipped by two-time World Champion Emerson Fittipaldi to be Lewis Hamilton’s successor, Norris was asked if being in his second season in Formula 1 had raised expectations.
He replied: “There’s changes for sure, but I don’t think it’s just because I’ve had a first few weekends or come into the year with more confidence.
“A lot of change has been through discussions and self-inflicted change. In order to get the most out of myself and my engineers and performance engineer is learning how to get the best out of each other.
“I don’t think people have changed because they suddenly see I can do a better job as I believe they’ve had faith in my from the beginning.”