Karun Chandhok believes Lando Norris’ recovery drive from the back of the grid to fifth place in Mexico was actually the ‘drive of the season’.
Norris started from 18th in Mexico, after making an error during his only qualifying run in Q1, and having his second run ruined by yellow flags. On Sunday, however, the British driver stormed forward to finish in fifth – a feat that has earned a major plaudit from Karun Chandhok.
The former F1 racer turned pundit and broadcaster for Sky F1, appeared to the channel’s end-of-year podcast to discuss Norris, with the chat focusing on whether Norris was the best driver on the grid in 2023 behind World Champion Max Verstappen.
Karun Chandhok: What Lando Norris did was the drive of the season
With Norris proving to be a consistent thorn in the side for Verstappen towards season end, Chandhok said he believed the British driver had maximised every opportunity he had in 2023.
“I think that’s been the case for the last few years, hasn’t he, as the best driver in Formula 1 without a win,” he said.
“Yeah, there’s no doubt about that particular stat. I think he had a few qualifying errors this year – we saw them in Mexico, Qatar, and Abu Dhabi, but what was really impressive was he recovered from them.
“If you look at the race in Mexico, I personally think what he did on Sunday was the drive of the season. Starting at the back of the grid, coming through the pack, there was no real luck involved.
“It was just absolute pace and overtaking and a really well-managed race. He came through to get a solid haul of points from a pretty annoying qualifying error, by his own admission.
“Same in Abu Dhabi, he made that mistake in quali at Turn 14 but, on the opening lap, he made up a place, got ahead of Oscar pretty quickly after that, and it didn’t really affect him.
“So, on the whole, a fantastic season, he kept his head down when the car was difficult early in the year and then, in Austria, when he got the update early, absolutely maximised what he had and I thought it was a super season.”
Tommo: What more can Lando Norris prove?
Appearing alongside Chandhok on the podcast was YouTuber Tommo, who was also full of praise for what Norris achieved through the year and his form against strong team-mates in recent seasons.
“It was those qualy instances, [like] in Mexico, where he kind of lost it on the esses and that resulted in him qualifying further down and he could recover through,” he said.
“I think, generally, in the races, I didn’t see him doing too much wrong really at all, all season.
“To have that challenging car at the start of the year, he still got P7 I think in Australia, so he was still able to get points out of that car when it wasn’t at its best.
“There’s always going to be doubt, as of every driver. I’m just like, what more can Lando prove, you know?
“He’s gone into McLaren, he was alongside Carlos Sainz that we’ve seen some incredible performances from, and Lando went toe to toe in qualifying with him in his first year.
“The year prior, obviously Ricciardo came into that team with a lot of expectation that he was going to take that over, and Lando asserted himself as number one of that team.
“Oscar, one of the most promising rookies we’ve seen for a long time coming in, and Lando did comfortably outperform Piastri in these races over the course of the year.
“McLaren, give him the car because I think he can do it, and Max knows he can do it. We saw a little glimpse of it in Brazil, didn’t we?
“I really hope so because them two racing, Max and Lando, come on. I want it.”