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Lando Norris: The Junior Career That Caught McLaren’s Attention

A look at the progression of Lando Norris’ career from karting through to Formula 2, before he made his full F1 debut in 2019.

McLaren driver Lando Norris made his name for himself in a successful 2016 season, where he had a knack for winning titles. As a result, Norris joined the McLaren Junior Driver Programme in 2017. He then became the official test driver and reserve driver for the Papaya team in 2018, participating in a couple of practice sessions that season. In 2019, he was called up to be an official driver for the F1 team. Five years later, he is a race winner for McLaren, having taken his maiden win at the 2024 Miami GP.

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Between 2008 and 2011 Lando Norris competed in the Comer Cadet class of the Super 1 National Championship, Formula Kart Stars MSA and the MSA British Championship. In 2012 he moved to the Rotax Mini Max, Junior, Mini Max, Junior Max and KF3 classes. He was the champion in the Formula Kart Stars.

Norris progressed to the KFJ class in 2013, winning the WSK Euro Series, the CIK-FIA European Championship and the CIK-FIA International Super Cup. In 2014, the Belgian-Brit competed in the KF2 and KF classes, being named champion of the CIK-FIA World Championship.

Ginetta Junior

Lando Norris made his car racing debut at the 2014 Ginetta Junior Championship. He finished P3 in the Drivers’ Championship, following 4 race wins, and 7 P2 finishes.

Formula 4

His Formula 4 debut came at the 2015 MSA Formula Championship. Norris won the championship after securing 8 wins and 7 further podium finishes. He won the title 42 points ahead of Ricky Collard.

Norris competed in three rounds of the 2015 ADAC Formula 4 Championship, managing 1 race win and 6 podium finishes, allowing him to finish P8 in the Drivers Championship. He also competed in three rounds of the 2015 Italian F4 Championship, finishing on the third step of the podium at the last race in Monza. In 2015 as well, he competed in the final round of the BRDC Formula 4 Autumn Trophy. After winning 2 races and coming P2 twice, he was P5 in the Drivers’ Championship.

Formula Renault 2.0 and Toyota Racing

2016 was a spectacular year for Lando Norris.

He moved up to Formula Renault 2.0 the next year by competing in the 2016 Eurocup Formula Renault 2.0. Despite being a rookie, he had a great season and won the Drivers’ Championship by 53 points. He had won 5 out of 15 races and finished off the podium only thrice.

He also made an appearance at the 2016 Formula Renault 2.0 Northern European Cup, being named champion despite his rookie status. Norris won 6 races, with his lowest finish being P4.

2 titles, weren’t enough for Norris, as he was also named champion at the 2016 Toyota Racing Series as a rookie. He won the title by an incredible margin of 135 points, following 11 podium finishes including 6 wins.

Formula 3

Still, in 2016, the Belgian-Brit driver made his Formula 3 debut. He competed in four rounds of the 2016 BRDC British Formula 3 Championship. With 4 race wins, he was P8 in the Drivers’ Championship. At the 2016 FIA Formula 3 European Championship, he competed only in the last round and did not finish any races in the points. He retired out of the qualifying race at the 2016 Macau Grand Prix but finished P11 in the main race.

His first full season in the Formula 3 tier was spent at the 2017 FIA Formula 3 European Championship. With 9 race wins to his name, he was named not only the Rookies’ Championship winner but also the overall Drivers’ Championship winner.

At the 2017 Macau Grand Prix, after finishing P7 in the qualifying race, he had a good recovery drive to finish P2 in the main race.

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Formula 2

Lando Norris made his Formula 2 debut at the last round of the 2017 Macau Grand Prix. In the next season, he competed in the whole season. Norris won only 1 race and finished P2 in the Drivers’ Championship, 68 points behind Geroge Russell and 7 points ahead of Alexander Albon.

Earlier in 2018, he had made a one-off appearance at the 2018 IMSA SportsCar Championship. Teammates with Fernando Alonso, the two came P13 in the Daytona Race.

After driving in a few practice sessions for the McLaren F1 team in 2018 as a test driver, he became an F1 driver for the team in the 2019 season, driving alongside Carlos Sainz. He was P11 in the Drivers’ Championship in his first season in the sport.


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