MIAMI GARDENS, Fla. (AP) — Lando Norris says the online trolling never really bothered him as he went winless through his first five Formula 1 seasons, even when it got worse as one of the breakout stars for fans introduced to the sport through Netflix.

It was a long wait as Team McLaren got its program together and prepared cars capable of competing with Red Bull, Ferrari and Mercedes. Norris passed the time doom scrolling social media, searching for motivation from his haters.

His moment came Sunday in his 110th career start when he earned his first victory by beating three-time reigning F1 champion Max Verstappen at the Miami Grand Prix. Verstappen had won the first two races at Miami and Saturday’s sprint race before he hit a cone early Sunday to give Norris his opportunity.

“I never didn’t believe in what I could go out and do, so I am happy to put that to bed and prove a lot of these people wrong,” Norris said. “I go on Instagram and I like all the comments of people abusing me. I freaking love it. It makes me smile more than anything, especially ”Lando No-Wins.” That’s become the thing.

“For me to finally prove those people wrong and prove to people that didn’t think I could go out and do it, it’s put an even bigger smile on my face. So I thank all of them.”

He turned up at the post-race news conference in a champagne-drenched firesuit. Verstappen and Lewis Hamilton led the congratulatory hugs for Norris, and Verstappen and third-place finisher Charles Leclerc sprayed champagne directly into Norris’ face on the podium.

He had closed his eyes and turned his smiling face to the sky as “God Save the King” was played, and he cradled the winning trophy as if it was an infant. He crowd-surfed with his McLaren crew and when he saw boss Zak Brown headed his way, warned ‘Don’t break my ribs,’ in anticipation of the bearhug.

“I’m shivering like hell because I wanted to keep all my champagne on me,” Norris laughed, “and now I’m freaking cold.”


McLaren needed this win, its first since 2022 (Daniel Ricciardo, and it came on a weekend in which the team introduced massive upgrades it was certain would make its cars more competitive. The 24-year-old Norris said he arrived Sunday believing he’d win.

Norris had promised his ailing grandmother last week that a victory was on the horizon but allowed “I didn’t think it would be coming this soon.”

McLaren this year now has scored wins in F1, Formula E and IndyCar, where Pato O’Ward last week was declared the winner of the season-opening race because Josef Newgarden was disqualified.

The next three IndyCar weekends are spent at Indianapolis Motor Speedway for the buildup to the May 26 Indianapolis 500. McLaren has to be feeling some pressure after a winless 2023 season and somewhat disastrous Indy 500.


The McLaren organization is intertwined — the IndyCar drivers were on social media celebrating Norris as soon as he crossed the finish line — and the F1 victory is a boost at the perfect time of the season. McLaren is also going to Indy with NASCAR superstar Kyle Larson, who will become the fifth driver in history to attempt to complete 1,100 miles of racing in one day in the Indy 500 and NASCAR’s Coca-Cola 600.

The hype surrounding Larson’s attempt at “The Double” has helped McLaren return to its status as one of the most recognizable brands in motorsports.

It is all vindication for Brown, an American who started his motorsports career in a marketing role in Indianapolis and now runs one of the largest racing brands on the planet.

Brown likes to stir the pot and ensure drama remains at the front of almost every race weekend, and he was at it again in Miami when he took a shot at Red Bull by implying famed car designer Adrian Newey was leaving the team because of the fallout from an investigation into improper conduct by team principal Christian Horner.

Brown went so far as to say Newey was probably just the first to head for the exit door, an assumption he was making based on “all the resumes” flying around the paddock.

He doesn’t let up in IndyCar, either, and rival team owner Chip Ganassi and Brown are not friendly. Brown signed Ganassi driver Alex Palou for 2023 and the two teams used a mediator to battle over the two-time IndyCar champion. It was decided Palou would join McLaren in 2024, but Palou balked last August and is now being sued by McLaren for more than $30 million.

McLaren last week fired David Malukas before he even made an IndyCar start for the team over injuries he suffered in a mountain bike crash ahead of the season, angering Malukas’ millennial fanbase. That followed the unpopular team dismissals of James Hinchcliffe and Oliver Askew, both done after McLaren entered the series with controlling interest of an existing team.

Brown unapologetically chases free agents with little regard to how many seats he actually has open. That’s partly how this Palou mess began — when Palou looked at the F1 landscape, he realized Norris wasn’t going anywhere and McLaren would likely never have a seat for him in the series.

If he was going to stay in IndyCar, then Palou figured he’d stay with the team that helped him to two championships rather than move to winless, revolving-door McLaren. While the decision might ultimately have been the right one for Palou, Brown is digging McLaren out of a decade-long slump and the Norris win has the entire organization feeling unbeatable.


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