McLaren driver Lando Norris has issued an apology after making comments in the wake of the Portuguese Grand Prix that downplayed Lewis Hamilton’s success, as well as hitting out at rival Lance Stroll.
Hamilton surpassed Michael Schumacher’s 14-year record for the most wins in Formula One at the weekend, with his victory at the Algarve International Circuit clocking up victory No 92 of his career to see him stand alone as the driver with the most wins to his name.
The six-time world champion is also poised to claim a seventh world title as early as the Turkish Grand Prix next month, with an almost-unassailable lead over Mercedes teammate Valtteri Bottas, which will see him tie Schumacher’s record of seven drivers’ championships.
The achievement was the talk of the paddock in Portimao after Sunday’s Grand Prix, but an unmoved Norris admitted that it was no surprise to see Hamilton on top given the dominance of Mercedes in recent years.
“I’m just happy for him, nothing more,” Norris said. “It doesn’t mean anything to me, really. He’s in a car which should win every race, basically. He has to beat one or two other drivers, that’s it. Fair play to him, he’s still doing the job he has to do.”
Norris also made negative comments about Stroll in the wake of their lap 17 collision on Sunday, when the Racing Point driver attempted an audacious move around the outside of the McLaren into Turn 1. Stroll appeared to anticipate Norris moving to cover the inside line - something the Briton did not do - and was forced to commit to the outside line despite there being little room for another car.
The two clashed when Stroll turned in on Norris, which resulted in the Canadian spinning off the track and Norris suffering damage to his front wing, and the stewards deemed Stroll at fault with a five-second time penalty applied, before his eventual retirement.
Stroll was also involved in a bizarre accident with Max Verstappen on Friday when the two collided at the same corner in practice, and Norris said afterwards that he will have to learn to avoid Stroll in future because “he crashes a lot” and “doesn’t learn from anything he does”.
"I don't know what he was doing really," said Norris. "He went to the left which I was quite surprised by, when he very easily could have gone to the inside. I was easily halfway alongside and he just turned in.
"He obviously didn't learn from Friday but he doesn't seem to learn from anything he does. It happens a lot with him, so I just need to stay away.
"It wasn't a nice battle. I don't know what I'm meant to say... he crashes a lot. "I don't know if he can't see properly in the right side or something. He ruined his own race, he ruined my race, it was his fault.
"I don't know why he tried to be a hero.”
However, having had two days to cool off since the Portuguese Grand Prix, Norris decided to post an apology on his Twitter account. The 20-year-old did not specify if he was referencing his recent comments about Hamilton or Stroll, although The Independent understands that his apology is in general to his recent comments rather than focusing on any specific incident.
“I owe an apology,” wrote Norris. “I’ve been stupid and careless with some things I’ve said lately in media and interviews, and haven’t shown the respect I should have to certain people. I’m not that kind of person, so know I should apologise to them but also everyone reading/listening. Sorry.”
I owe an apology. I’ve been stupid and careless with some things I’ve said lately in media and interviews, and haven’t shown the respect I should have to certain people. I’m not that kind of person, so know I should apologise to them but also everyone reading/listening. Sorry
— Lando Norris (@LandoNorris) October 27, 2020
Norris is on a disappointing run of three races without finishing in the points, with collisions out of his control forcing dropping him out of the reckoning in both Russia and Portugal while a reliability failure cost him a chance of a strong finish at the Nurburgring. Having been running up in fourth in the drivers’ championship, Norris has seen Daniel Ricciardo, Charles Leclerc and Sergio Perez overtake him in the drivers’ championship, though he remains just 15 points off fourth-placed Ricciardo in the battle to be the best of the rest.