Lando Norris dubs Singapore ‘hardest race of my career’ as McLaren take big points

Henry Valantine
Lando Norris on the McLaren pit wall. Singapore October 2022.

Lando Norris felt the Singapore Grand Prix was the toughest he has faced in Formula 1, but it paid dividends for McLaren as he and Daniel Ricciardo both finished in the top five.

Norris raced well to finish fourth, while Ricciardo moved up 11 places to take P5 on a 22-point weekend for McLaren which, combined with a double DNF for Alpine, put them back in fourth place in the Constructors’ Championship.

The race at Marina Bay fell just short of its scheduled 61 laps after five Safety Car and Virtual Safety Car interruptions, with Sergio Perez going on to cross the line first after leading from start to finish.

Singapore is notorious for being the toughest physical test the drivers face in Formula 1 and alongside the muscle power needed for the 23-turn layout, the McLaren pair also had the mental side of the race to deal with.

“This was by far the hardest race probably of my career…maybe not because I had to hold off too many people, but just the level of concentration you need from lap one to the very end is incredible,” Norris explained to Sky F1 after the race.

“Especially when you start to get a little bit tired, which everyone does. It was very wet out there as well. Great day for us.”

Norris was on the tail of his friend and former team-mate Carlos Sainz after the final Safety Car restart, and appeared faster than him at times before eventually dropping away with the final podium place on the line at the time.

But given the Constructors’ situation in front of him, he opted against making a move on the Ferrari driver.

“We got lucky that we got to box under the VSC and not many people did, so that gave me the opportunity to get close to him at least,” said Norris.

“I was a bit quicker on the first few laps. I was quite surprised – he just couldn’t get the tyres in very quickly.

“So I had a few chances to get close but as you saw with Max [Verstappen], when he tried to overtake it didn’t end very well. So I didn’t really want to risk anything either.”

As for Ricciardo, it marked his first time in the top five for 19 races, making up 11 places in the course of the race through a combination of early overtakes and taking advantage of strategy to put himself into contention.

He spoke of his relief at being able to get back towards the sharp end of the field and will take the chance to rest after a demanding race on Sunday.

“It’s obviously important, I think, just for all of us,” Ricciardo said to Sky F1. “Saudi was the last time I had a top five, it’s about a year ago, so pretty sad, I know.

“But I think for everyone, we needed this and Lando’s in fourth. It’s just a big day for the team, so finally it’s like everyone can be in good spirits.

“I’m definitely too tired to party but I think we’ll have a little drink here at the track with the team and celebrate what’s been a good day.”

Read more: Mattia Binotto says Charles Leclerc’s ‘not great’ start cost him Singapore GP win