McLaren boss drops Rosberg and Button reference as Lando Norris at last joins F1 winners list

Jamie Woodhouse
Lando Norris poses with his P1 trophy after winning the 2024 Miami Grand Prix.

McLaren's Lando Norris.

Lando Norris can finally call himself a grand prix winner, as McLaren Racing CEO Zak Brown pointed to Nico Rosberg and Jenson Button as Formula 1 champions who endured a similarly long wait.

While Norris’ ability has rarely been in doubt, the wait for a first grand prix win had rumbled on far longer than the Brit – who debuted with McLaren in 2019 – had hoped it would.

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But at last, on his 110th start, Norris trashed his record of most podiums without a win by taking the chequered flag in Miami, that McLaren’s first win since the 2021 Italian Grand Prix.

Norris’ McLaren team-mate Oscar Piastri had been applying the pressure to leader, Red Bull’s Max Verstappen, during the opening stint of the race, before a perfectly-timed Safety Car swung the race in Norris’ favour as he romped to victory from there.

Norris is widely talked about as a potential World Champion in the making, Brown pointing out that past champions Rosberg (2016) and Button (2009) reached that milestone after a long wait for that first win, suggesting Norris could follow a similar path.

Rosberg, who made his F1 debut in 2006, became a race winner for the first time at the 2012 Chinese Grand Prix, while for 2000 debutant Button, his first win came at the 2006 Hungarian Grand Prix.

Asked by Sky F1 whether he is expecting to see a slightly different driver in Norris now that he has an F1 win under his belt, Brown replied: “Yeah, I think that anytime a driver has won their first grand prix, it just kind of raises their confidence.

“They’ve been there, it gets that conversation away of ‘When are you going to win your first race?’

“But I mean, there have been people, Jenson Button, Nico Rosberg, who have gone on to win world championships and it took them longer to win a race.

“And let’s face it, it’s been giving him a car capable of winning, and he’s delivered. Had he had a car capable of winning earlier, it would have been.

“So, he’s driving awesome, Oscar was amazing at the weekend too, I think that has to be mentioned. He was running second, less than three seconds off Max.

“We were just fast all weekend, our race pace was great and just so awesome to see all the papaya, all the men and women here at McLaren, who have taken us from being the worst car in Miami last year, to the best car in Miami, in 12 months. That’s pretty impressive.”

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Norris received the fully-upgraded McLaren MCL38 for Miami, so his heroics have sparked a great deal of intrigue over whether McLaren has now emerged as a genuine threat to Red Bull.

And Brown confirmed that McLaren do at least believe they can take more wins off Red Bull in F1 2024.

Asked if he expects McLaren to fight for more victories this year, Brown replied: “Yeah, I don’t see why we can’t be fighting for wins.

“It’s not going to be easy. Red Bull, I think still has the pace, this one race, and we were really dialled in.

“But the last few races, we’ve been quicker than Ferrari. So we’re close. We’re in the game. I think it shows they’re beatable and we intend to beat them and anyone else for that matter, hopefully, a couple more times this year. I see no reason why not.”

Piastri will also receive the full upgrade package next time out at Imola, having not run the upgraded sidepods and floor which Norris enjoyed.

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