As a top-ranked racer and the youngest British Formula 1 driver in history on the McLaren racing team, Lando Norris is at the forefront of the next generation of Formula 1 drivers, paving his own tracks.
BY ADRIENNE FAUROTE
PHOTOGRAPHY DAVID CLERIHEW
STYLING MARK ANTHONY
GROOMING ANDRIANI VASILIOU
SHOT ON LOCATION AT McLAREN
Photo Credit: David Clerihew
It’s the morning of February 9th, moments before our interview, when the news breaks that Lando Norris and McLaren Racing have signed a contract extending their partnership over the next four years into the 2025 Formula 1 season. The announcement sends shock waves through the industry for not only is it extremely rare for both a racing team and driver to invest — and trust — in this kind of long-term contract, but Norris is also at the starting line of his career.
Norris is an anomaly, to be sure. At just 22 years old, he has become a pillar in the Formula 1 community. He is a top-ranked racer, fierce competitor, the youngest British Formula 1 driver in history and the third highest-paid driver on the grid. He has garnered more than six million loyal fans across social media platforms, with no signs of slowing down.
The Zoom camera turns on for our interview, revealing Norris in Barcelona for the preseason testing, and though thousands of miles away, his energy is infectious.
Norris’ boyish charm belies a maturity that is beyond his age, which is very endearing. From seeing the way his face lights up when he speaks about recently driving in Barcelona to going back to the beginning of his career, Norris’ enthusiasm for the sport is like no other. In fact, his love for the sport has been a part of his life since he was 5 years old. “My dad was a racing fan,” admits Norris of his father, Adam Norris. “He loved everything about Formula 1 and racecars, but he didn’t get a chance to do it when he was growing up. It was too expensive, and he couldn’t afford it. So, as I was growing up, I would watch racing on TV, and at around 5 or 6 years old, I became interested in Formula 1 and racing in general.”
Yet, it wasn’t until the ripe age of seven when Norris actually began his racing career in go-karting, following the sequential steps of growth toward Formula 1. “I started on a quad bike, then motorbike, and then eventually graduating to the go-kart,” recounts Norris. Karting has been an integral part of Norris’ racing DNA and is what put him on the motorsport map.
Norris holds an impressive list of accolades in karting and junior racing; he won the Super One Series’ ‘O’ Plate in 2010; in 2012, he became Formula Kart Stars champion and runner-up in the MSA Super One British Championship; and in 2013, he won titles in the CIK-FIA KFJ European, CIK-FIA KFJ Super Cup, WSK Euro Series KFJ, CIK-FIA International Super Cup, and World Karting Championship. It was through karting that Norris would experience his first feeling of victory.
“When I first started, I wasn’t really winning. In the beginning, I was doing it as a hobby, and as a kid who loved racing and wanted to do racing,” he explains. “I never thought that I wanted to be in Formula 1; I was too young. In 2012, I transitioned from cadet to junior juniors to just a junior, and that is when I started to win. When I started to go into bigger series and categories, I started to see what I could achieve. Year after year, I would take the next step in karting, and eventually, I won the world championship in 2014.” Norris remains the youngest driver to ever set a pole position at a national meeting, making history as the youngest karting world championship winner at the age of 14 with the CIK-FIA KF World Championship title — previously held by Lewis Hamilton.
For Norris, it’s always been the little races along the way that gave him more belief and confidence to see what he could achieve in the future.
Photo Credit: David Clerihew
Norris went on to excel in single-seater racing and was awarded one of the most prestigious awards for a young racing driver: the McLaren Autosport BRDC Young Driver Award. In 2019, he made his Formula 1 debut with an impressive rookie season, and in 2020, he began his second full season with McLaren, where he continued to make a name for himself on the track.
Today, Norris stands as one of the top players in Formula 1, with another season on the horizon to further establish his esteemed ranking. And while the sport is synonymous with complexities, his strategy to keep rising is quite simple: “To train for the new season, it’s all about the simple things,” he says with the same excited grin he’s been wearing throughout the interview. “I spend a lot of time with the team, whether it’s on the simulator or just having meetings reviewing things from the previous year — noting what I did well in, where I need to make improvements, and so on — it’s about understanding all of that to make real improvements going into the season.”
Norris admits his training style errs on the boring side of “just keep working hard.” But that is truly what it has taken for Norris to succeed. “Over the years, you learn what motivates you, what keeps you fighting even more, and what brings you to that next step,” he says. “And I think I am learning that still — I am still understanding what gets me into the perfect zone every weekend, every race, and so on.”
His unique and undoubtedly mature perspective stunned me throughout our conversation. Though he endures rigorous training and never-ending hours of practice, he maintains a balanced perspective; for him, maintaining balance is just as important as training. “I must continue doing things I really enjoy — whether it is on the circuit or away from the circuit. Getting the right amount of time between focusing on Formula 1 is important to enjoy it,” says Norris.
He even lets us in on one of his secrets to success: “The more I enjoy things, the more I want to do well in them. The more I enjoy every moment in Formula 1, the more I will want to make improvements.”
And Norris has found a team that supports the same sentiment. On the heels of the newly signed contract with McLaren — worth a staggering $94 million — it is clear that Norris has found a second family within the McLaren racing team. “The new contract is very special actually,” he explains. “McLaren is the team I came into Formula 1 with, and they’re the team I was cheering on and loved more than anything when I was 7 years old [and] first getting into Formula 1.”
For Norris, an already special bond has become more precious. “To continue something with a team for more than just a year creates a better story and a much better harmony within the team. A team becomes more of a family rather than people you just work with — it’s significantly more than that,” he admits.