Stella admits win takes a weight off for both Norris and McLaren

Winning in Formula 1 for the first time at the Miami Grand Prix is a weight off for not only Lando Norris but also McLaren as a whole, according to team principal Andrea Stella.

Norris won his first F1 race last Sunday, rapidly closing in on the leaders when released into clear air in the first part of the race and then pulling away after retaining the lead during a safety car period. Having finished second on eight occasions prior to winning at the 110th attempt, Norris felt he answered his critics with his victory but Stella (pictured at left, above, with Norris) says it was down to McLaren to provide the 24-year-old with both the car and the execution as a team.

“Realistically, it was a bit of a weight on his shoulders,” Stella said of Norris’s long wait for a win. “But it was some weight on our shoulders as well, because we knew as soon as we had made winning material available to Lando he would have delivered. So we felt the responsibility and I said that many times.


“We feel like it’s up to us, it’s not up to Lando. But credit to Lando that he kept developing — how he developed over the winter, especially looking for instance at improving in qualifying and delivering laps that sometimes don’t have to be 100% when you have a fast car. Just be there. And I think he’s doing that.

“Also, I have to say his race management is now very mature. As soon as he saw that there wasn’t much to do after the first lap, he started to save tires, save tires, because he knew his race would come at some stage. And then that pace he was able to pull off once the cars ahead of him pitted, then that was quite incredible.

“Fast in qualifying, even sometimes pacing himself, and very mature in the race at getting the best out of himself in the race.”

Norris had been on the verge of a first win back in 2021 when he attempted to make it to the flag on slick tires after a late downpour in Russia but come up short. Stella says that missed opportunity was down to McLaren’s processes rather than Norris, and shows how tough it is to win a race as a team.

“We were totally convinced that the gap to the victory for Lando wasn’t in Lando, it was in the team. We needed to provide him with winning material. And as soon as we did it, he achieved it,” Stella said. “So that’s for me testament to how ready he was. Also, when we look at what he delivered in podiums with a car that sometimes wasn’t really a podium finisher on merit, for me Lando is on a very strong journey.

“If I think back to the race in Russia, I think if anything that was a bit of turning point for Lando himself and for the team, in terms of how we have to operate when the pressure rises and in terms of how we have to collaborate to make good decisions by bringing the unique information you have while you are on track and the unique information you have on the pit wall.

“But if I go back to that race, I think responsibility is on the pit wall as we didn’t enforce the call to pit enough. The driver on track, he doesn’t see if it is raining somewhere else. We could see it. It was our limitation in not enforcing Lando to pit, so even in that case he was delivering the job but we were not ready, in a way, to achieve the victory.

“Achieving victories is never easy and if we look at what Red Bull have achieved… I never under-evaluate what they have achieved. I always really take my hat off because there’s so many ways in which you can wrong. For them to be so successful with such a sequence of victories is just amazing. We are just starting with this kind of journey and hopefully we will have more of these days in the future.”

Story originally appeared on Racer