Lando Norris, McLaren, Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez, 2019

Norris got over 2019 bad luck because “it wasn’t our fault”

2019 F1 season

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Lando Norris says he came to terms with the misfortunes which frustrated him at times during his debut F1 campaign last year.

The McLaren driver finished sixth in his second race start, but was unable to improve on that result after suffering various setbacks during the following rounds. He was involved in a first-lap collision in China and tangled with Lance Stroll in Spain.

Norris had technical failures as well. These included a brake fire which put him out in Canada and a power unit problem which slowed him in France. More Renault troubled ended his races in Germany and Belgium – the latter striking him down one lap away from finishing fifth.

He admitted the problems began to frustrate him. “The first few I kind of didn’t get so annoyed about because I know it kind of happens,” said Norris.

“Then I had Spa, Paul Ricard and a few more. Canada. Then I got a bit more annoyed because it was happening a bit more regularly.”

However he came to terms with the disappointments as the year went on. “I had a couple more and it kind of got to the point where I was realising more it’s nothing I could change or affect. Or the people around me, it wasn’t our fault these things that happened. Just mistakes that are made.

“So kind of the first few I was quite easily able to forgive, the next lot were then frustrating because of Spa and everything, it was my best result. And then going to Mexico with a pit stop [problem] it was like, this happens, I need to move on, nothing I can do.”

Norris ended his first season 11th in the championship, 47 points behind team mate Carlos Sainz Jnr, who finished sixth.

“When I look back it has affected a lot of things, points in the championship and so on,” said Norris. “But a lot of it, not all of it, a lot of it’s been out of my control and the things I can’t change.

“That’s just something I need to forget and then go into next [season], something I don’t need to be thinking about.”

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Dieter Rencken
Dieter Rencken has held full FIA Formula 1 media accreditation since 2000, during which period he has reported from over 300 grands prix, plus...
Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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  • 11 comments on “Norris got over 2019 bad luck because “it wasn’t our fault””

    1. Lando should know he’s got double trouble. Renault have never made a reliable power plant. Even when they were winning championships with RB they’d fail, often in flames or leaving a trail of parts along the track. Secondly, he’s at McLaren, and they’ve had chronic finger trouble for years.

      Come 2021, half of those problems will disappear when he’ll have Mercedes power, but the finger trouble will always be there ready to trip him up.

      1. Alonso had 3 retirements in 2 seasons when he won his championship titles at 2005 and 2006.
        That was astonishing reliability by that time, they benefitted a lot of their low V angle effort, what
        ended up in lower center of mass, lower vibrations, and higher durability. They won not because
        of raw power in those seasons, the package was good on average and very reliable.
        Honda and Reanult would be happy today with that MTBF, and by that time rules on car parts’
        durability had been much more compliant.

      2. Jon Bee, since you claim that they would fail often when powering Red Bull, let’s take a look at the number of engine failures Red Bull recorded from 2010 to 2013.

        2010: 1 engine failure
        2011: 0 engine failures
        2012: 3 alternator failures*
        2013: 1 engine failure

        Implying that they would “often” fail is inconsistent with what happened in those seasons, as at most you’re talking about a single failure across both cars in an entire season. That is not “often” failing – that is basically the same failure rate as Ferrari or Mercedes had as well in that period.

        The only season where there was a slightly higher failure rate was in 2012, but it is worth noting that the alternators that Red Bull used were their own in house design, not the standard Renault unit. It would be unfair to call it a “Renault engine failure” when the part which was failing was designed by Red Bull (a limited number of ancillary engine components, including the alternator, were not part of the engine freeze regulations in that period).

        The standard alternator Renault offered used liquid cooling, but Red Bull designed their own air cooled unit as there was a slight packaging benefit. Unfortunately, that was linked to overheating problems that would cause the bearings to fail, and I believe Red Bull eventually moved away from it back to the standard Renault unit.

        1. Outstanding post. Renault was definitely reliable in the detuned frozen V8 era, especially considering that red bull requested to use the engine as a downforce generating air pump when off throttle, which in actuality put more stress on the engine.

        2. This is a very interesting view, looking back at the moment the writer put his words to the web.

      3. The only one with “finger trouble” in F1 is Seb Vettel.

    2. Thankfully McLaren seem to have got their act together – though as a McLaren fanboy I guess I am biased and perhaps letting my will sway the evidence. But the management team seem to have de-toxified the outfit a great deal, I think not being a front-runner has humbled the team to some extent. The team comms and pit activities have been a joy to watch, it will be interesting to see how they perform in 2021 with a Mercedes PU and new regs to exploit, I won’t be getting my hopes up too much – but whether they are scoring podiums or not, Carlos and Lando are a joy to watch and I’m sure we’ll see great racing from the pair.

    3. Huh. “[…]it’s nothing I could change or affect. Or the people around me, it wasn’t our fault these things that happened.” Whose fault was it then? There is no such thing as bad luck, just bad engineering or designing; and as he continues, mistakes were made. Or is the us referring simply to McLaren or Lando’s mechanics and not Renault in this case?

      1. I think it’s clear it’s about the things the team could change during a race and/or season – so not so much Renault, but aero-development, suspension, set up and choices of tyres, strategies, and how to run the race would be what they can do @kaiie

    4. Then I got a bit more annoyed because it was happening a bit more regularly….I had a couple more and it kind of got to the point where I was realising more it’s nothing I could change or affect. ”

      It’s my observation as a professional driver that a driver does have some influence over the reliability of ones vehicle.
      Carlos Sainz (96 points) drives the same vehicle. He had 3 retirements and 1 place used the 90% rule (i.e. retired but had completed at least 90% of the race before retiring). Lando (49 points), on the other hand had 4 retirements and 2 places used the 90% rule, so a total of 6 races, 2 more than Carlos, where something other than people driving faster prevented a points finish.
      If we looked over the fence at Renault’s results, who, I’m guessing use the same power unit and transmission system, we see that Nico Hulkenberg (37 points) had two retirements and 1 result was courtesy of the 90% rule. Admittedly Nico ended the season with 12 fewer points than Lando did, and consequently paid the price for that. Daniel Ricciardo, on the other hand, ended the season with 54 points (5 points more than Lando), 4 retirements, and 1 result required the 90% rule. So maybe Lando’s results are “normal”. I guess the question is what level of unreliability does your team want? Would they prefer more points and are comfortable with the occasional retirement? Or are they desperately cash strapped, so getting to the end of the race is the first priority?
      Actually, looking at the vastly more experienced drivers on the WDC table with lesser results than Lando, I think he’s done well.

      1. @drycrust, are those values statistically meaningful in any way? Over a single season, it is actually rather difficult to see if there is any meaningful trend – Norris’s retirement rate is potentially entirely within the realms of normal random variation.

        There has been one individual who did run a statistical analysis of drivers from 1980 to today, and in reality it turned out that the vast bulk of drivers seemed to have no statistically significant impact on the reliability of their cars, either positively or negatively.

        Indeed, some drivers classed as “unlucky” might not have been quite so unlucky in reality – Mark Webber, for example, was sometimes called as such, but his mechanical retirement rate was actually pretty similar to his team mates: as for Jean Alesi, another such figure, it turns out his retirement rate was actually slightly below that of his team mates, albeit not in a statistically meaningful way.

        There was only one driver who seemed to have a statistically meaningful impact, and that was Alain Prost – his mechanical retirement rate was below average by a statistically significant amount. It’s not to say that the driver has no impact, but it does suggest the impact of the driver is comparatively small.

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