Even though he came agonisingly close to victory in Sochi, Lando Norris says he’s felt ready to stand on the top step of the podium all year.
The McLaren driver has impressed all season long with his performances, but was denied a maiden win in changing conditions in Sochi, opting to stay out on dry tyres before plummeting down to P7 as the rain worsened and he struggled to get around.
Position-wise, he came closest to winning in Monza by finishing second behind team-mate Daniel Ricciardo, but he remains determind to break his own victory duck soon.
Now that he has been in a winning position in Formula 1, with Lewis Hamilton pressuring behind him for a significant portion of the race, Norris said he has now been in a place in which he knew he was ready to be in all season long – albeit stopping short of predicting a title challenge next year.
“I don’t think Russia made me suddenly think I’m able to win a race,” Norris told Formula1.com. “I felt already capable earlier on in the season, almost for the whole of this year.
“It’s hard to know until you are in that position, to really get that feeling of what it’s like leading a race, the pressure, the decision making, it is always different if you’re leading to whether you are second, third or fourth or whatever.
“I always in the time I think if I have done a good job or not, or I feel like I know if I’ve done a good job or not, and definitely a lot more throughout this whole season, even whether it is FP1 or FP2, but then more importantly the qualifying and the race, I feel like I can come out of it and be satisfied with the job I’ve done.
“And now it’s not just that I have a good race or a good qualy, it’s I have a good weekend, then a lot more of them as well.”
Norris has had one of the standout seasons of any driver on the grid so far this year, having appeared on the podium four times and is still holding onto P4 in the Drivers’ standings ahead of the Red Bull of Sergio Perez.
While he is yet to achieve that first victory, the McLaren driver feels within himself that his experience in Russia will only serve to benefit him further down the line.
“I’m happy with the job I’m doing, but I know there are still many things for me to work on, many more situations which arise which will be new to me, like in Sochi it was still a new situation for me,” he said.
“So experiencing these kinds of things is only going to be helping me for the future.”