Lando Norris finally reaches the top step

MIAMI — His week began with questions about the cut on his nose.

It ended with him celebrating on the top step of the podium.

After years of searching for it, Lando Norris finally enjoyed his day in the sun here in the Formula 1 Miami Grand Prix, breaking through with the first victory of his F1 career.

McLaren brought a host of upgrades to Miami this week, and those upgrades showed promise in the first two Sprint Qualifying sessions when Norris was on the medium compound. Norris topped the timing sheets in both SQ1 and SQ2, but struggled in the third session on the softs, slipping down the order and qualifying in P9.

His F1 Sprint Race ended on the first turn Saturday, as he was washed out in a four-car incident that left his MCL38 with terminal damage.

McLaren was able to get his car ready for qualifying for the Miami Grand Prix later in the day, and Norris again showed decent pace, finishing that session in P5. But with Max Verstappen starting on pole position, it looked as if this Miami Grand Prix would end up like so many other races the past three-plus seasons, with the rest of the grid chasing down Verstappen in vain.

But that changed on Sunday.

Norris was running in sixth through the early stages of the Miami Grand Prix, but as the laps ticked on, he continued to show tremendous pace. He posted what to that point was the fastest lap of the race on Lap 19, and was running near the front around the mid-way point of the race.

That’s when Norris, who still needed to make his mandatory pit stop and tire switch, got the break he needed.

A collision between Kevin Magnussen and Logan Sargeant spun the Williams driver into the barrier, eventually bringing out the safety car. That enabled Norris to pit under ideal conditions, and he came out on a set of hards in front of Verstappen. But with the Red Bull driver lurking, Norris needed to stick the restart and pull away from DRS range as quickly as possible to see the day through.

He did just that.

Over the closing stages of the Miami Grand Prix Norris slowly built a lead, maintaining it into the final laps. As he was pulling away, Verstappen made it clear that he was not going to be able to chase down the McLaren in front of him. “I can’t get the car to turn,” lamented Verstappen to his team in the pits. “It’s a disaster.”

It was anything but a disaster for the McLaren driver, who finally got to reach the top step for the first time in his F1 career.

“About time!” exclaimed Norris after the race trackside to Jenson Button. “What a race. It’s been a long time coming, but finally I’ve managed to do it. I’m so happy for my whole team, I finally delivered for them. A long day, tough race, but finally on top so I’m over the moon.

“The whole weekend’s been good, I’ve just had some little setbacks along the way,” continued Norris. “I knew on Friday we had the pace, just a couple of mistakes here and there, but today we managed to put it together. We put the perfect strategy [together], it all paid off. Thanks to McLaren, everyone, and have to give a shout out to my mum and dad of course.”

Norris was also asked about his team, who gave him his chance in racing. He did not hold back his gratitude.

“What do I say to them? I’m just proud really,” Norris responded. “A lot of people doubted me along the way. I’ve made a lot of mistakes over my last five years, my short career, but today we put it all together so this is all for the team.

“I stuck with McLaren because I could believe in them and I did believe in them. Today proved exactly that.”

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