How Lando Norris’ epic drive evoked memories of famous Fernando Alonso race

Thomas Maher
Lando Norris was one of the stars of the Mexican Grand Prix, as the McLaren driver overtook his way to fifth place...twice!

Lando Norris was one of the stars of the Mexican Grand Prix, as the McLaren driver overtook his way to fifth place...twice!

Lando Norris’ relentless overtaking in Mexico has been compared to one of Fernando Alonso’s most famous races.

Norris started the Mexican Grand Prix from 18th place after an error in qualifying but sliced his way through the pack into the points places by the time the red flag came out following Kevin Magnussen’s hefty crash.

But a poor restart for the second half of the race meant Norris fell back down to 14th and thus had to start his recovery once again – impressing even more as he wrong-footed Alex Albon, Daniel Ricciardo, George Russell and eased past teammate Oscar Piastri in a display of cooperation from the Australian.

Andrea Stella compares Lando Norris Mexico drive to Fernando Alonso at Valencia 2012

With Norris having put in the race in which he gained the most positions during his F1 career so far, McLaren team boss Andrea Stella was suitably impressed as he compared it to when Fernando Alonso – for whom Stella was race engineer at Ferrari – stormed to victory in Valencia 2012.

“Overtaking so many overtakings in Mexico where, yesterday, everyone was saying it was so difficult to overtake, while managing power unit temperatures and having to do lift and coast – I’m just impressed,” the Spaniard told media following the race.

“One of the best races for a driver that I’ve been part of.

“This race made me think of Valencia 2012. There, I think we started 12th or something like that (11th – editor), and then we won the race.

“But this one – on one side, we are excited having seen this kind of masterpiece. On the other side, like Lando said on the in-lap ‘Guys, let’s do a good job on Saturday, and we can fight for podiums’.

“So you know the pace was there to fight for podiums.”

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Andrea Stella: McLaren potentially had second-best car in Mexico

While neither McLaren ended up on the podium as Lewis Hamilton and Charles Leclerc finished second and third behind race winner Max Verstappen, Stella admitted to feeling some frustration about the fact that the MCL60, in Norris’ hands, was potentially one of the quickest packages on the grid.

“We were in a position to be the second-best car, possibly shared with Hamilton,” he said.

“But even the stint Lando did when he went on hards, because we wanted to elect a strategy that would give us as much clear [air] as possible.

“So after 10 laps on soft, we went on to hards. The pace was really strong, and it was a controlled pace because we wanted to go very, very long.

“Then, on the final stint, to have mediums or softs, depending on how long we would have gone with that one was also encouraging. So, potentially, second-best.

“There’s a little element of frustration. At the same time, never would I have thought we could have overtaken so many cars.

“So I’d rather take the positive out of this race and hope that the entire team at the factory and all the fans receive the same sort of message… we are there. We don’t give up. We are competitive. But we need to do a better job overall over a race weekend.”

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