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Norris Triumphs Engineer Overcomes Sochi Ghosts

Norris Triumphs: Engineer Overcomes Sochi Ghosts

11/05/2024

Lando Norris’s recent victory brought more than just celebration; it helped his engineer, haunted by past mistakes at Sochi, find redemption in the intense world of Formula 1 racing.

Lando Norris’s win in Miami was also a victory for Will Joseph, the race engineer who has been with him since his start at McLaren F1 in 2019. After more than a hundred races together, the two men finally clinched the Holy Grail.

As soon as he crossed the finish line, Norris’s first word was indeed for his engineer. “We did it, Will!” said the driver. “It’s done, well done,” replied the engineer, who revealed that this would help him forget the 2021 Russian Grand Prix, where the team had misjudged their strategy with the onset of rain and lost an almost certain victory.

“We’ve been waiting for this for a long time, especially after Russia, so it feels good,” Joseph said. “All the time, you wonder if something will go wrong. Sochi haunts me every day, it haunts me in my sleep!”

“I feel like we can put this behind us now. It was a fantastic race! We talked after qualifying about the decisions we had made and we weren’t very sure, I think I’m going to go back to him and tell him that they were maybe the right ones!”

Joseph let Norris “handle” his race finish

Lando Norris, Will Joseph, and the other engineers on the team decided to bet on a safety car by extending the Briton’s first stint, thanks to his ability to manage the tires.

A strategy that worked, but didn’t reassure the team when Norris found himself just ahead of Verstappen. Will Joseph reveals, however, that his approach to the race did not change once Norris was leading.

“We said in the morning that our play might be to extend the first stint hoping for something to happen, and when the pace is there, you go for it, there’s no reason to stop early and it probably came out at the best time.”

“You always have to worry about Max [Verstappen], his pace was strong all the time, but we were giving the gaps in the first laps and we seemed comfortable as we had a six-lap advantage on the tires.”

“I don’t know, I was watching the clock and I thought the 20 laps were going to be long. We monitored the race as we always do, Lando was solid so we treated this race as usual, like a normal race.”

“After a few laps, we said we were going to let him manage, and he was strong, it was good. We continue to give this advice to Norris, but at the same time, we know that sometimes you have to be quiet and let him do his thing.”

McLaren and Norris have “worked very hard” since 2019

To avoid putting too much pressure on his driver once he was in the lead, Joseph decided to communicate less with his driver, thanks to more effective preparation this season. More generally, he recalls the work done since Norris’s debut to reach this level.

“We changed our communication a few races ago, to look at things more broadly. We exchange, we discuss things, what will happen, it’s all about preparation. And not much happens because we prepare, it’s work.”

“We have all worked very hard, from the first day we worked with Lando, we thought about what this journey would be like, and how we would get there. He has done an incredible job, as have all the people who have supported him.”

After this first success, Joseph believes that the developments brought to Miami can lead to other strong performances: “We did the same thing last year, we brought a big package to Austria. We thought about how it would go, what risks we were taking, and how to set them aside.”

“If things go well, it’s easy, if not, it’s hard. We had problems in FP, and we wondered how we would recover, but we had faith in our process. The package should be more comfortable on some circuits than here, so we’ll see!”

Norris Triumphs Engineer Overcomes Sochi Ghosts

Norris Triumphs: Engineer Overcomes Sochi Ghosts. Norris Triumphs: Engineer Overcomes Sochi Ghosts

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