Lando Norris said it was a busy day at Spa-Francorchamps for him after making his first appearance in an official practice session in Formula 1 with the McLaren F1 Team, as well as participating in his usual duties in the FIA Formula 2 championship.
The British racer took the seat of Fernando Alonso for the opening session in Belgium and finished eighteenth quickest, two places and 0.088 seconds ahead of the second McLaren of Stoffel Vandoorne, and 3.006 seconds behind pacesetter Sebastian Vettel.
“It was a very busy day today, juggling between F2 and F1,” said Norris. “I had to get on my bike to get up to the F1 paddock in time for FP1. It was a bit stressful but it was worth it!
“It’s been a good day, anyway. I was a bit nervous this morning as it’s obviously very exciting to be back in the car, especially in Spa, which is probably one of my favourite tracks. We got through our programme nicely and I got in a good amount of laps.
“I’ve driven here in the past in F4, Formula Renault, Formula 3, Formula 2 and F1 now, so I know how every car goes around here! We did some aero tests and none of my runs was a proper performance run, which was a nice thing to do, so it was not about speed but more about consistency and feedback.”
Norris feels there is more pressure to drive a Formula 1 car compared to anything in single seaters, but it gave him the opportunity to experience at first-hand what a race weekend feels like in the sport as he aims to race there sooner rather than later.
“It’s very different to drive in Formula 1, mainly because of the pressure,” said Norris. “There are a lot more people here.
“I think it’s a good thing that I get to see first-hand what it’s like to drive in a race weekend, and to have a rough idea of where I stand compared to Stoffel and Fernando.”
Norris believes that the post-Hungarian Grand Prix test ensured he felt ready for this opportunity to drive at Spa-Francorchamps, and with so few opportunities in modern day Formula 1 for young drivers to run, he knew he had to maximise this chance as he did at the Hungaroring.
“After doing the Budapest test I feel pretty ready for any opportunity to jump in the car, and I’m getting more and more comfortable with everything I do, so it doesn’t take me a while to build up,” said Norris.
“With so few opportunities in F1 in general to be in the car, I think you need to make the most of any chance to drive, to learn and to prove yourself, be consistent, be fast, be reliable and give good feedback, which I feel like I did today.”