The Russian Grand Prix weekend was a weekend of soaring highs and devastating lows for young McLaren driver Lando Norris. A fantastic qualifying performance saw him take his first Formula 1 pole position, setting him up well for Sunday’s race. Norris looked set to take his debut victory to follow teammate Ricciardo’s shock win in Monza, before a bout of rain late in the Grand Prix dashed his hopes, eventually seeing him finish in a lowly P7, while Hamilton who elected to pit went on to win.
Following the devastating result, Ferrari driver Leclerc has expressed his sympathy for Norris, having experienced his debut victory slip through his grasp in similar fashion at the 2019 Bahrain Grand Prix, where engine issues saw him drop from first to third in the closing stages of the race.
Leclerc said it is difficult to accept losing a win in such a way, and believes Norris may feel partly responsible having decided not to stop for intermediate tyres when the rain started to fall. He believes however, that it is only a matter of time before Norris scores his maiden win.
"Obviously I can imagine what he is feeling," Leclerc said. "Probably he's part of the decision process in those type of situations, and he might feel very, very guilty.
"But he is an amazing driver. I think he has shown it very often this season. He has had a very strong season, and I am sure he will learn from it.
"It's just a matter of time before his first win, so yeah, I don't think he should feel so down after the race he has done."
Head high, my time will come pic.twitter.com/Z7YUm7w8BD— Lando Norris (@LandoNorris) September 27, 2021
Leclerc and Norris are not the only drivers to narrowly miss a debut victory in recent years either, with both Alex Albon and George Russell suffering near misses in 2019 and 2020 respectively. Russell, who missed out at the Sakhir Grand Prix last season while filling in at Mercedes for Lewis Hamilton, also expressed sympathy for Norris.
"It's every driver's worst nightmare leading a race and the rain starts coming down, so I feel really bad for him," He said.
"I've been there last year. I know how it feels. He'll have plenty more victories to come."