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Our verdict on Norris’s shocking first F1 victory

On the 110th attempt, Lando Norris is a Grand Prix winner.

It has been a long time coming and confirms a real step taken by McLaren after introducing a significant F1 upgrade package at the Miami Grand Prix.

But how much of that was a fluke and due to race conditions? Or was this a well-deserved, well-executed victory? And given the pain of Norris’s previous near misses and the level at which he is performing in F1, do the circumstances of his first win matter at all?

Here’s what our writers think:

Luck doesn’t change this at all

Scott Mitchell Malm

Was a fortune involved? Yes. So? It was an exceptional victory. And he is hardly the first F1 driver to have luck on his side as he breaks his winning streak in an era when someone else has the upper hand.

That win still needed Norris to be at his best. A compromised first stint put him on the back foot, but he managed to take good care of his tyres, unleashed excellent pace in clear air, defended intelligently on the restart to secure the lead and then took advantage of the conditions to pull away come.

The safety car was clearly a big factor as it gave him vital positions. And Verstappen was ill. But Norris’s speed at the end of the first stint changed his race and what happened after the restart shows what advantage he would have had over Verstappen.

He was assisted, but also quickly. And deserved it. So I hope people just enjoy this for what it is, because it shouldn’t be a win with an asterisk against it.

Review this during Norris’s latest stint

Gary Anderson

It is always difficult to guess what would have happened if ‘X’ had or had not happened.

What did happen was that the McLarens were as fast as anyone in race form and to be honest we could have seen two of them on the podium. But that comes to McLaren. What’s impressive is that when the car makes updates, they work, so that shows it’s capable of challenging the ‘big boys’ on most tracks.

Did Norris win because of an FIA error in deploying the safety car after Sargent and Magnussen came together? Possibly, but McLaren drove long during the first stint and opened up that opportunity.

However, I think we have to judge his race from the restart after the safety car came in. From that moment on there were still about 25 laps to go and Norris was more than seven seconds ahead of Verstappen in a Red Bull. That’s something that hasn’t happened in a long time.

A feel-good moment for F1

Glenn Vrijman

This will not be remembered as a race victory achieved with a fortunately timed safety car. Norris’ pace before and after that moment in the right place at the right time will ensure that.

It is not a happy victory if you pull seven seconds on Verstappen in a straight fight. There was still so much of the race left when the safety car came in that if Norris had only had luck on his side, it would have been over before the end.

And besides, McLaren made its own luck by strategically going long, something it was able to do thanks to the speed of the car and the driver.

The other striking thing about this win was how popular it was with the other drivers. It was a brilliant feel-good moment for F1 to see so many of them looking for Norris to congratulate him.

The first victory is a testament to McLaren’s strong management

Samarth Kanal

Norris’s first F1 win came with a bit of luck – a well-timed safety car – but he made his own luck with some hot laps at the end of his first stint, and some hot laps after that crucial safety car restart.

However, this victory also speaks to McLaren’s management in recent seasons. In 2022, McLaren lost to Alpine in the Constructors’ Championship and the team had a poor start to 2023; in Miami last year it was perhaps the slowest team of all.

But it rallied to eventually beat Aston Martin into fourth place in the Constructors’ Championship and is now a regular podium contender. This victory shows how far McLaren has come – and it’s a journey that stands in stark contrast to that of Alpine and Mercedes.

Alpine in particular has struggled, with Miami becoming the first Grand Prix of the 2024 season to score points. A long series of leadership changes has exposed the mismanagement of the Enstone team. Mercedes, meanwhile, has fallen far short of being the championship team it was expected to be, and continued efforts to improve the W15 have yielded little results.

Two years ago, few would have predicted that McLaren would be back on the top step so quickly – and no one would have predicted that McLaren’s management and leadership would prove exemplary by mid-2024.

This victory changes nothing

Jack Benion

We are in uncharted territory for Norris, as no driver has been as good as him and waited so long for a win.

All this win does is end the predictable narrative/question of ‘when will Lando win a race?’.

In terms of what it means for him and those around him, they will of course celebrate this win and all that it means for him, his family and backers, but ultimately it means little for how we should think of him as an F1 driver .

We already knew that Lando Norris was good enough to win races and it was a matter of bad luck and circumstances that prevented this from happening. He was already of race-winning caliber, so nothing has really changed.