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McLaren’s Lando Norris opens up on mental health, depression rookie season, battling Mercedes, Red Bull


McLaren‘s Lando Norris has opened up on struggles he experienced with mental health during his rookie year as a Formula 1 driver, shedding light on the toxic thought pattern that looped in his head and admitting he was “depressed”.

Norris is widely seen as a very smiley and lively character who loves to pull pranks.

The 21-year-old Briton waved to McLaren teammate Daniel Ricciardo, albeit not spitefully, as he lapped him in Monaco in May, and he pranked the Australian in a series of hilarious Twitter posts in September.

But Norris has revealed that, contrary to the cheery exterior he presents, he found his rookie 2019 campaign difficult to handle mentally.

“I guess people, from when they just watch TV, don’t realise many things that a driver goes through,” Norris said on ITV show This Morning.

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“It’s a bit of a shame, but there are more programs now where you get to see what the driver is like behind the scenes, and the amount of pressure and stress that they have to cope with.

“Especially at my age, coming into Formula 1 at 19, there’s a lot of eyes on you.

“So, dealing with all these kinds of things took its toll on me.”

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Norris partnered Carlos Sainz in 2019 and 2020 and, when Sainz crossed to Ferrari, Ricciardo left Renault to replace the Spaniard at McLaren.

Norris, George Russell and Alex Albon were all Formula 1 rookies in 2019.

“(It was) feeling like I don’t know what’s next,” Norris said.

“‘If this goes wrong, if I don’t go out in the next session and perform, what’s going to happen?’

“‘What’s the outcome of all of this? Am I going to be in Formula 1 next year? (What if) I’m not? What am I going to do? Because I’m not really good at many other things in life.’

“So, just all of that, and then just feeling depressed a lot of the time that, if I have a bad weekend, I just think I’m not good enough and things like that.

“When they start adding up over the season, and then the social media side of it all, that can just really start to hurt you.”

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Norris pointed out several sources of support that helped him overcome his difficult rookie season.

“We partner with (mental health charity) Mind, which have helped me massively, and also helped many other people in McLaren, but also just in the world in general,” Norris said.

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“So speaking to McLaren, speaking to the people that are around me and my friends that I trust and also Mind, I’m in a much better place now.

“I’m much happier and I can enjoy everything I do.”

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Norris has thrived during the 2021 world championship, registering 10 top-five finishes and four podiums from the opening 15 rounds.

The youngster also went agonisingly close to achieving his maiden grand prix win almost a fortnight ago, grabbing his first-ever pole and leading the race until lap 51, when he lost control in heavy rain on his slicks.

His impressive showing in Russia followed McLaren’s one-two finish in Monza at the previous grand prix.

But Norris called for calm amid increasing hype around McLaren.

“There’s obviously a lot of expectation on us at the moment because of Monza, where we had a one-two, and last weekend I had pole position and almost won the race. So a lot of people are expecting amazing things,” Norris said.

“But we have to limit them in a way because we’re still realistically not as quick as Mercedes and Red Bull, which are the leading two teams at the moment.

“We still have a lot of work to do.”

If you’re seeking support, contact Lifeline on 13 11 14 or Beyond Blue on 1300 22 4636.



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