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Miami GP takeaways: Lando finally arrives on the top step

Mark Thompson / Getty Images

Following each race weekend this year, we offer our takeaways. The 2024 schedule continued with the Miami GP, which was all about Lando Norris.

Moments that decided the race 👀

Lando shows his pace, poise after safety car restart

Lando Norris endured 110 race starts and 15 podium appearances in his Formula 1 career before finally standing on the top step.

While a perfectly timed safety car on Lap 29 left Norris in first place after being the last of the top five starters to pit, that shouldn't take away from his pace and composure in grabbing his long-awaited maiden victory. Winning in Formula 1 is never easy, but it's become almost impossible during the unprecedented dominance of Max Verstappen, whom Norris would have in his rearview mirrors for the final half of the race.

Not even Verstappen could make Norris flinch in Miami. While the Red Bull didn't seem as strong as in past races - Verstappen complained about a lack of grip - Norris coped well with the pressure of trying to win his first race and needing to be mistake-free to avoid allowing the reigning three-time champion to smell blood in the water.

Norris, on medium tires that he started the race on, was already faster than Verstappen on fresh hard tires prior to the safety car's arrival. Additionally, there wasn't a single lap after the safety car ended where the British driver was slower than the Dutchman.

It's been a long time coming for Norris, and no one can discredit the basis of his first-ever victory.

McLaren's upgrade package delivers

A driver is only as fast as his machinery allows him to be. While Norris drove an absolutely brilliant race, he couldn't have done it without McLaren's incredible team in Woking, England.

McLaren brought one of the most anticipated upgrade packages of the season thus far to Miami, turning up with a whopping 10 new updates - only one being circuit-specific - to its 2024 car. They include the front wing, front suspension, front corner, floor body, sidepod inlet, engine cover, cooling louvers, rear suspension, rear corner, and beam wing.

The result speaks for itself.

Norris finished 17th and nearly a minute-and-a-half behind Verstappen last year in Miami. At the same circuit one season later, he took the chequered flag more than seven seconds ahead of the Red Bull driver.

"Every upgrade has done exactly what the machine said it would do," McLaren CEO Zak Brown said. "The data's been great so we're really on a roll. The more upgrades, the sooner the better."

Driver of the Day 🙌

Who else but Lando?

It wasn't a straightforward win for the 24-year-old. A first-lap, first-corner collision with the Aston Martins and Lewis Hamilton's Mercedes in Saturday’s sprint forced Norris to retire, but he secured P5 in qualifying later that day. Norris pounced on the chance to take the lead in Sunday's race after the fortunately timed safety car and pit stop, cruising to a first victory five years in the making.

"A lot of people doubted me along the way. I've made a lot of mistakes over the last five years, my short career, but today we put it all together, so this is all for the team," Norris said after his win. "I stuck with McLaren because I believed in them and today proved exactly that."

Like his race weekend in Miami, Norris' F1 journey has not been on a linear trajectory. He stood on the podium 15 times without a win, an F1 record. The closest the Brit previously got to a victory had him leading for the majority of the 2021 Russian Grand Prix but falling short due to rainfall. But Norris is a reliable, scrappy driver and has consistently proved that with a good car, he can have great results.

They said what? 🗣️

Mark Thompson / Getty Images Sport / Getty

Norris on his support system: "This one was for all my family, not just my mom and dad. I've always traveled a lot, spent a lot of time away. They've helped me since the very beginning; my brother, my sisters, my grandparents, it's all of them."

Lando's father, Adam Norris, on the win: "Thousands of texts and congratulations. People I've known along the journey and people I haven't known for a long time have come out of the woodwork, so it's nice. Everyone's happy."

Carlos Sainz on Norris grabbing 1st win: "I think he's deserved for a long time to win a race. He's a driver that, for me, is going to win many, many races in F1. He's been driving at an exceptional level - today, he was on the lucky side - but I think luck comes to the people who deserve it, and today he definitely deserved to win."

Lewis Hamilton on Norris, McLaren: "I feel so happy for Lando. I just told him he needs to stay tonight. He's going to try and change his flight. It's such a special moment to win your first grand prix, and obviously, I started at McLaren, so I'm really happy to see them back on top. It's been a long time."

What's next?

Formula 1 heads to Europe for the first time this season with the Emilia Romagna GP set for May 17-19.

Verstappen claimed victory at the circuit in 2022 and 2021, while Hamilton won the inaugural race in 2020. The event in Imola was canceled last season due to flooding.

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