Rising star Lando Norris believes British F4 has played a crucial role in his success

16 JANUARY, 2017 – Lando Norris continues his meteoric rise up the FIA single-seater pyramid, following in the footsteps of previous champions Jenson Button and Ayrton Senna to Formula 1. Nevertheless, he still found time to catch up with the series in which his single-seater career began, the F4 British Championship certified by FIA – powered by Ford.

As the 17-year-old reacquainted himself with the Ford EcoBoost-powered racer on the MSA stand at the Autosport International show he said: “What was at the time known as MSA Formula, and is now British F4, was my first year of single-seaters and it was undoubtedly the very best championship for me to join.

“You learn how to drive around a variety of different circuit types and on the TOCA package along with the British Touring Car Championship, which means you get a lot of media coverage.”

In 2016 Norris enjoyed success on multiple fronts, claiming both the Eurocup and Northern European Cup titles, as well as the TRS title and capped off a remarkable year by winning the prestigious McLaren Autosport BRDC Award.

It has earned him a test in a McLaren Formula 1 car and a simulator role with the British team, all of which he reckons might not have been possible had he not cut his teeth in the UK’s leading single-seater series.

“Crucially, you learn so much more than just the basics because the racing is so close,” explained Norris.

“It means you have to be really precise. You have to be very good in qualifying and at starts for example. These are all things that you have to learn and understand to prepare for a career in motorsport. The F4 British Championship enables drivers to do this. It enabled me to do this.

“It helped me become more accurate and precise behind the wheel; to find that extra bit of lap time to be on pole or win a race. What I learned in British F4 has definitely helped me to achieve the results I have since graduating from the series.

“Ford’s backing of the championship is great and there is the possibility for drivers to progress with them with things like their Ford GT programme. There are so many positives which come as a result of competing in British F4 and that’s a good thing for youngsters to see.”

The 2015 FIA British Formula 4 Champion, who will continue his progression up the FIA single-seater pyramid in the FIA Formula 3 European Championship in 2017 with Carlin, was keen to emphasise how some of the sport’s best teams make up the British F4 grid.

“There’s a lot of top quality teams in British F4, for example Carlin who I raced with,” said Norris.

“It’s also the only single-seater series in the UK open to 15-year-olds. There are equivalent championships in Germany and Italy, but you race on more technical and unforgiving tracks in the UK than you do in those countries.

“British F4 is the category to start in.”

2015 FIA British Formula 4 Champion Lando Norris wins McLaren Autosport BRDC Award

  • 2015 Ford EcoBoost-powered star scoops McLaren Autosport BRDC Award and British Club Driver of the Year gong at Autosport Awards.
  • Norris lands prize F1 test with McLaren and a simulator role with the British team.

5 DECEMBER, 2016 – 2015 FIA British Formula 4 Champion Lando Norris capped a phenomenal 2016, which saw him claim both the Eurocup and Northern European Cup titles, as well as the TRS title, by winning the prestigious McLaren Autosport BRDC Award.

The Award earns him a test in a McLaren F1 car and a simulator role with the British team, as well as full BRDC membership and an Arai GP-6 RC carbon crash helmet.

Norris emerged triumphant having been up against fellow British F4 graduates Ricky Collard (2016 British F3 vice champion), Toby Sowery (2016 British F3 multiple race winner) and Sennan Fielding (2016 FIA British Formula 4 vice champion) in a comprehensive test which put them through their paces.

The young stars battled it out over two intensive days of assessments at Silverstone in November which featured on-track tests on the Grand Prix circuit in Formula 2, Mercedes DTM and McLaren GT cars, plus simulator sessions and fitness tests conducted by McLaren.

Said Norris upon receiving the Award on the same night that he was crowned British Club Driver of the Year: “It’s been great, the racing success this year, but this has really topped it off.

“I need to give a lot of respect to the other drivers – Ricky, Sennan and Toby.

“I’ve raced against them for the past few years, we’ve given each other a lot of respect and they’ve made my life hard.”

The judging panel was led by former F1 driver, 1992 World Sportscar champion and BRDC president Derek Warwick, and also comprised two-time British Touring Car champion Jason Plato, McLaren’s Andrew Kirkaldy and Mark Williams, guest judge David Brabham, leading circuit commentator Ian Titchmarsh, Autosport Editor Kevin Turner and Autosport Features Editor Scott Mitchell.

Commented Warwick who was joined by Brabham, Turner and McLaren racing director Éric Boullier to present Norris with the Award: “He was one of the quickest in the DTM car, one of the quickest in the McLaren GT3 car and was stunning in the Formula 2 single-seater. He’s got a great career ahead of him. In Lando we’ve got a future Formula 1 driver and a future F1 World Champion.”

Added British F4 championship manager David Lowe: “Many congratulations to Lando. What he achieved in our championship at the age of 15 was very special and this year he has used the experience gained in F4 to go on to even greater heights.

“By winning the McLaren Autosport BRDC Award, Lando will follow in the footsteps of another of our graduates and winner of this Award 2009 F1 World Champion Jenson Button. I have no doubt that Lando will continue to be a fantastic ambassador for British F4 as he progresses up the FIA single-seater pyramid.

“It’s been a superb year for our British F4’s graduates. All four finalists for this prestigious Award have competed successfully in Ford EcoBoost-powered machinery.

“This is testament to the championship’s ability to prepare and develop the sport’s brightest young talents for a career in motor racing. We are giving drivers the foundation for success. The F4 British Championship certified by FIA – powered by Ford is unquestionably the place to be.”

Images by LAT Photographic.