Lando Norris reveals the advice Lewis Hamilton gave him
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Lando Norris has admitted he’s “not Lewis Hamilton” when it comes to levels of popularity in F1. The McLaren driver is one of the sport’s rising stars, and currently occupies fifth place in the Drivers’ Championship after impressing with four podium finishes this season.
At the Italian Grand Prix in Monza, he was second as he and teammate Daniel Ricciardo helped their team record a first one-two finish for 11 years, before the 22-year-old took a first career pole at the Russian Grand Prix.
He seemed set to win the race in Sochi, but was scuppered by a downpour of rain late in the race as his decision to risk staying out on dry-weather tyres backfired. As a result, Norris slipped to seventh with compatriot Hamilton ending up as race winner.
His performances and charisma have already made him a huge hit with F1 followers though, and a recent poll of 167,000 fans found him to be the second most popular driver in the sport, behind current Championship leader Max Verstappen and ahead of seven-time world champion Hamilton.
Norris himself though, isn’t reading too much into that result, conceding he has a considerable way to go to match Hamilton’s status – both on and off the track.
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“I’m not Lewis Hamilton still,” he told ESPN. “I’m not a seven-time world champion and known for many other things like he is.
“He’s popular outside of Formula One as well. I wouldn’t say I’m anywhere near that level.
“But, of course, with the charts that came out the other day, being the second most popular – there’s a lot of things fans love me for which is different from other drivers.
“It’s OK at the moment. Sometimes it’s a bit too much, but it’s still a nice thing to have.”
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When talking about how he’s ‘different’ to some drivers, Bristol-born Norris could well have been referring to the frequency with which he engages with fans on social media.
He has 4.4 million followers on Instagram, 1.5 million on Twitter and, perhaps uniquely, 1.1 million on Twitch.
During the early stages of the Covid-19 pandemic, Norris set streaming records as he embraced online gaming, and was regularly inviting members of the public to join him by posting links.
Still, Hamilton, 36, enjoys followings of 25.4 million on Instagram and 6.7 million on Twitter, so Norris is perhaps fair with his assertion there’s no comparison between the two.
With two races of the 2021 season remaining, Norris’ on-track focus will now be on consolidating fifth in the Championship, with the Ferrari duo of Charles Leclerc and Carlo Sainz just one and 7.5 points behind him respectively.
Hamilton meanwhile, will be hell-bent on wiping out the eight-point deficit between him and Verstappen.
The next Grand Prix takes place in Saudi Arabia, the country’s first ever, on December 5. The season then culminates seven days later in Abu Dhabi.
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