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Palm Trees and P1: How McLaren’s Masterclass Led to Norris’ First Win

Max Verstappen and Red Bull’s dominance was halted for the second time this season, as Lando Norris claimed his first-ever win in his Formula 1 career. 


The British driver’s maiden win makes history at the Miami International Autodrome, as Verstappen previously held the title as the only driver to win at this circuit. Introduced in 2022, the Miami Grand Prix is a star-studded event, with countless celebrities attending each year, and the paddock even being housed inside the Hard Rock Stadium. 


The beginning of the weekend didn’t seem to be off to a good start for Norris, as he qualified ninth for the Sprint Shootout, and was immediately out of the Sprint Race at turn one. He managed to qualify fifth later in the day for the feature race, but hopes were not extremely high for the papaya team.


With Verstappen in pole position, the weekend seemed to be following its usual format, with the Dutch driver claiming a win at every race but one this season. However, the race proved to be a difficult one for Verstappen, as he made many rare mistakes and struggled with the car throughout.

Max Verstappen after qualifying in Pole Position at the Miami Grand Prix. Courtesy of Red Bull Content Pool/ Getty Images.


It was also a tough race for the hometown hero, Logan Sargeant, as he was forced out of the race due to a collision with Kevin Magnussen. This collision led to a Safety Car, which worked in Norris’ favor, allowing him a free pit stop to stay in the lead ahead of Verstappen.


While one could credit the Safety Car for Norris’ win, it was clear the pace was strong regardless. It may have kept him in the front, but the British driver was making a clear gap away from Verstappen, ending the race with a seven-second lead. This is something that has proved to be difficult against the reigning World Champion. 


Throughout the 2024 season, it has been clear that Red Bull and Ferrari have been the top-performing teams. However, the new upgrades McLaren introduced in Miami seem to have made significant steps to being true competitors for podiums and now wins. 


Norris’ maiden win has been a long time coming, as he was set to win in Sochi back in 2021 after claiming pole position in qualifying. However, he found himself missing that top step after sliding off the track due to the rain after not switching to intermediate tyres. Even while heartbroken, Norris stated regardless that “his time will come,” and it surely did on that Sunday in Miami.

Lando Norris at the 2021 Russian Grand Prix, where he was set to claim his first win after qualifying in pole position. Courtesy of Formula1.com.


On top of a new race winner, Miami featured many on-track battles and hosted one of the most entertaining races of the season. Carlos Sainz and Oscar Piastri’s long-standing feud on-track continues to hold strong. The two drivers had a collision on lap 35, costing Piastri his race, and forcing him to pit for a new front wing. 


While Piastri’s race may have gone differently than expected, the new McLaren upgrades were evident as he managed to secure 13th in the race, overtaking quickly from the tail end of the pack. 


The podium celebration was a special one for the papaya army. Norris was finally able to take his place on the top step, and the Dutch national anthem was once again silenced during the 2024 season. 

Charles Leclerc and Max Verstappen dousing Lando Norris in champagne during the Miami podium celebration. Courtesy of Red Bull Content Pool/Getty Images.


All of the heartbreak, hard work, and determination were all worth it in the end, as Norris was able to have his first win with the team he started it all with, McLaren. It’s evident why Norris declined his Red Bull offer, as he has stated multiple times that he wants to win it all in papaya.


The celebrations were never-ending for Norris, and it was evident of just how deserved this moment was for him. Countless drivers came to celebrate Norris, showcasing how special a driver’s first win is. 


The next race will be special, honoring the late Ayrton Senna, who died at the San Marino Grand Prix held at Imola. May 1 marked 30 years since his passing, and many tributes will be made to the three-time World Champion Brazilian driver. 


With Imola coming up, one can only wonder if the weekend will return to the typical Red Bull dominance, or if another driver will be able to knock Verstappen out of that top step once again. The Emilia-Romagna Grand Prix will take place May 17-19 at the Autodromo Enzo E Dino Ferrari Circuit. 

Edited by Breanna Ebisch

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