To some extent, the distress of Lando Norris in Sochi after seeing him escape a victory that stretched out his arms recalled the misadventures encountered by Charles Leclerc in 2019. The circumstances have nothing to do, but in both cases, a very first success in Formula 1 was at stake, with the feeling of touching it with the finger.
At the Russian Grand Prix, Lando Norris mastered most of a race from which he started from pole position. Until a downpour and the wrong choice of tires in the last laps ruined his dreams of success. The Briton said to himself “devastated”, assuming his mistake just as much as his team.
Two and a half years ago, Charles Leclerc saw his first victory take off in Bahrain, where he too had started on pole and had led his boat well. At the time, it was an engine failure that deprived him of his first victory… conquered a few months later at Spa-Francorchamps. We could also cite the example of George Russell to Sakhir last year, when the Briton, replacing Lewis Hamilton at the house of Mercedes, had in turn touched on a success that will wait.
From his experience, Charles Leclerc knows how difficult it is to lose this first chance of victory. However, the Monegasque does not doubt the rebound capacity of a Lando Norris for whom it would therefore only be one “a matter of time”.
“I can naturally imagine how he feels today”, confides the Ferrari driver. “He’s probably part of the decision-making process in this kind of situation [pour les pneus], and he might be feeling very, very guilty. But he’s an incredible pilot. I think he’s shown it a lot this season. He’s had a very solid season, and I’m sure he will learn from it. It’s just a matter of time before his first win, so I don’t think he should feel that downcast after the race he’s had. “
Bad choice for Lando Norris, reliability for Charles Leclerc… and a team error associated with a puncture last year for George Russell. There is no shortage of incidents that can derail the victory train.
“It’s a driver’s worst nightmare to lead the race and the rain starts to fall”, observe George Russell. “So I feel really bad for him. I went through this last year. I know what it feels like. He will have plenty of wins in the future.”