When Norris took on Supercars stars

08 May
F1’s latest winner went head-to-head with the best of Supercars in 2020
3 mins by James Pavey, Main Pic by McLaren
  • Lando Norris won first F1 race in Miami last weekend

  • Norris competed in Supercars Eseries in 2020

  • McLaren star won reverse grid Supercars race at COTA

The scenes of Lando Norris’s first Formula 1 victory has triggered a flood of plaudits for the British star, who won last weekend’s Miami Grand Prix.

Norris defeated three-time reigning champion Max Verstappen to take a long-awaited maiden Grand Prix win, five years after his F1 debut.

The popular McLaren F1 driver, now a 110-race veteran, is a known simulator racing ace, which led him to a taste of Supercars in early 2020.

As COVID-19 gripped the world and put many things on hold, Supercars organised an entertaining online racing series, which encouraged overseas stars to race local drivers.

That included Norris, who thanks to his sim skills, took little time to get on the pace in his wildcard Walkinshaw Andretti United ZB Commodore.

Lando Norris drives wrong way, blocks pitlane

Norris joined the Supercars field thanks to WAU’s ties with Zak Brown, who heads up McLaren and is a part-owner of WAU. Then aged just 20, Norris joined an expanded WAU Eseries effort with star recruit Chaz Mostert and Super2 champion Bryce Fullwood.

It came after Verstappen competed earlier in the Eseries season, with ex-F1 driver and 2016 Indy 500 winner Alexander Rossi also competing thanks to his Andretti connections.

Previously, Norris had raced current Tickford Racing driver Thomas Randle in British Formula 3 and Toyota Racing Series in New Zealand, which Norris won in 2016 alongside his Eurocup Formula Renault 2.0 and Formula Renault 2.0 Northern European Cup titles.

Norris came into the Eseries in red-hot form, winning on debut in the IndyCar iRacing Challenge. However, a Supercar — around Spa-Francorchamps, no less — was a different thing altogether.

However, Norris took to the Supercar — albeit virtual — like a duck to water, qualifying third before losing his Shootout time due to a kerb strike. He then placed a provisional fourth behind Shane van Gisbergen and Scott McLaughlin, before things unravelled.

norris pither 2020 spa eseries

Norris collided with Chris Pither in the reverse grid race, triggering a comical blocking of pit lane, before he was caught up in a first-lap tangle in the following race as Andre Heimgartner spun.

Norris enjoyed his experience so much, that he returned the following week for the round at the Circuit of the Americas, where he beat Supercars regulars to victory.

Van Gisbergen won the opener, taking a lights-to-flag victory ahead of Anton De Pasquale and McLaughlin. Norris, meanwhile, had been in the mix for a top 10, only to be penalised for hitting Cam Waters after the stops.

Norris took third on the grid for the second heat, and he duly dominated the reverse-grid affair to win ahead of Waters and Todd Hazelwood.

Speaking after the Spa event, Norris quipped he “100 percent” wants to drive a Supercar in the future, something could yet eventuate given Brown has the 2011 Bathurst 1000-winning Holden Racing Team Commodore in his possession in the UK.

Norris, De Pasquale makes passes into the Bus Stop

Norris’ then McLaren teammate Carlos Sainz Jr and his father, rally legend Carlos Sainz Sr, drove the Commodore at the Spanish circuit of Navarra in 2019.

“We went to a track day once a couple of years ago,” Norris said at the time.

"I didn’t get to drive it there but [Brown] said he’d allow me to drive it if we ever go out on a track day again in his V8. I would love to. Especially because it’s so fun to drive on a simulator.

“I’m sure it’s even better to drive on the actual race track. Yeah, it’s a handful but in a good way. It’s a lot of fun to drive.”

Norris is now fourth in the F1 standings, 53 points behind leader Verstappen, heading to the next round at Imola on May 17-19.

The 2024 Supercars season will resume at the Bosch Power Tools Perth SuperSprint in May 17-19. Tickets for the Perth event are on sale now. International viewers can follow all the action on Superview.

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