2017 FIA F3 European Championship – Norris Moves up the Order

Lando Norris

Norris Second in Driver Rankings After Spa-Francorchamps

Lando Norris has moved up one place and into second in the FIA Formula 3 European Championship. The McLaren-Honda Young Driver scored two impressive victories in his Carlin prepared Dallara-Volkswagen in the latest races at Spa-Francorchamps over the past two days (28-29 Jul). The BRDC SuperStar arrived in Belgium third in the Drivers’ standings but leaves tonight second, 18pts behind championship leader Maximilian Günther (D), after a successful points haul.

The three 33mins plus one lap races around the fast, sweeping 4.35-mile track – the longest on the F3 calendar – featuring many elevation changes, marked the beginning of the second half of the 30-race season and saw Norris line-up in pole-position on the 18-car grid for Races 1 and 2 and fourth for Race 3. He had actually set the “pole” time for all three races but a three-place grid penalty dropped him to the second row for the final race.

Norris made a good start in Race 1 but needed to defend his lead heading up the Kemmel Straight in to Les Combes, a collision at this corner on the opening lap bringing out the Safety Car for 10mins. Undeterred Lando confidently swept to a near two-seconds lead with eight laps completed and took the chequered flag 2.8secs clear after 15-laps, repeating his Formulae 4 and Renault race successes at Spa from earlier in his career.

Lando found himself swamped going up the Kemmel hill at the start of Race 2 and was squeezed in to second. He then went three-abreast in to Les Combes before clipping another car, the subsequent suspension and bodywork damage causing instant retirement. Adding to Norris’ misery was the fact that title rivals Joel Eriksson and Günther finished second and third respectively while Lando picked up a three-place grid penalty for today’s race.

In the third and final race, Norris started from the second row but gained a place at Les Combes on the opening lap then moved into second going up the Kemmel Straight a lap later. Norris immediately snatched the lead following a brief Safety Car period, once more slipstreaming up Kemmel and making the overtake, Lando duly scoring win number five of the season, his 12th podium, by 2.39secs after a masterclass performance in his 21st career Euro F3 race.

There is now a three-week break in the 30-race calendar before the next event at the coastal Zandvoort track near Amsterdam but Norris will be at the Hungaroring next week to drive a McLaren-Honda MCL32 on Wednesday (2 Aug). The test is the result of the British teenager winning the 2016 McLaren Autosport British Racing Drivers’ Club (BRDC) Award.

Lando Norris: “Spa has been a very strong event for me apart from Race 2. Two wins and fastest in all qualifying sessions was almost perfect and has allowed me to close up in the championship. I probably did my best start of the season in Race 1. I was under pressure but managed to hold Callum [Ilott ] off. We had a Safety Car phase on the opening lap, which wasn’t ideal but I made a good restart and managed my pace to save the tyres. In Race 2 I had cars all around me and as I turned in, I locked-up the front-right [wheel]. I understeered wide and tagged another car [Zhou] – it was my mistake. Race 3 was a relatively fun race. Starting from fourth wasn’t bad, my start was pretty good again, and I enjoyed the overtakes. Getting three ‘poles’ on Thursday was very good. I did a slightly better job in second qualifying. We’d improved the car between the two sessions, the track conditions were better making me happier in the car.”

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