How McLaren engineered Lando Norris first victory at Miami GP

The 24-year-old driver celebrated his first race win in Miami where McLaren team's strategy was just as crucial as his driving on the track

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Lando Norris’ race engineer Will Joseph has explained how McLaren’s strategy gamble paid off to land him his first victory in Formula 1 at the 2024 Miami Grand Prix.

The Briton ended his 110-race wait for his first win in F1 since making his debut for McLaren back in 2019, producing a mature drive at the front to beat Red Bull’s Max Verstappen by a clear distance.

Norris freely admitted his victory came about with some fortune from the safety car, but there was nothing lucky about how the 24-year-old etched out a seven-second gap between himself and Verstappen in the second phase of the race.

But a lot of the legwork had been done on the pitwall, with McLaren’s strategists taking credit for deciding to extend his first stint on the medium tyre, which paid dividends when the safety car was brought out on Lap 28 following a collision between Kevin Magnussen and Logan Sargeant.

Lando Norris during 2024 Miami GP | McLaren F1 Team
Lando Norris clinched victory at the 2024 Miami GP | McLaren F1 Team

A beaming Joseph, who has worked with Norris since his rookie year when he was 19 years old, explained just how the Woking team masterminded their first race victory in nearly three years.

“We said before the race, maybe our game is to go long and something happens. When the pace is there, you just do. It came out at the right time,” Joseph told Sky Sports F1. “We gave Lando the gaps for the first few laps then we saw he was comfortable and after that we just left him alone. He was strong, he was good.

Sochi a distant memory

By winning his first race in F1, Norris can finally put to rest the bad memories from the 2021 Russian GP, which had threatened to haunt him every time he failed to finish on top of the podium.

Norris had victory in his grasp before the rain fell hard in Sochi and ruined his chances of victory, after he opted not to put on intermediate tyres and stay on slicks. But as the rain intensified, he skidded off the track and fell down to P7, with Lewis Hamilton taking the win instead.

But on May 5, 2024, it was his time to shine in Miami and Joseph, who has been with McLaren since 2010, believes those memories can be banished to the history books. When asked about Norris’ drive, Joseph added: “I feel like we can put Russia 2021 behind us now! What a fantastic race.

“Everyone at McLaren does a fantastic job. The team foundation is so strong right now, Andrea [Stella]’s leadership is phenomenal and we just go from strength to strength.

“What we achieve at the race track, we try to bring back to the factory and build a race team. We want to be a race team, so thank you so much to everyone.”

Joe Krishnan
Joe Krishnan
Joe Krishnan is an NCTJ-qualified journalist who has worked for a number of media organisations, including the Daily Express, The Mirror, Evening Standard, The Independent and Bleacher Report. Joe has been following F1 since when he watched Mika Hakkinen clinch the 1999 drivers' championship, and his first taste of real-life racing action was watching David Coulthard spin off into the gravel at the British Grand Prix at Silverstone in 2001.
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