Ross Brawn believes Lando Norris‘ “inexperience showed” that cost the McLaren driver his maiden F1 victory.

F1’s managing director motorsports, however, can appreciate the pain Norris will be going through after being on the pit wall and making crucial calls at vital times that can make or break a race.

In Norris’ case, it was opting to try and hold on to his lead of the Russian Grand Prix on slick tyres at a time when rain was hitting a particular part of the Sochi Autodrom and making conditions difficult.

In contrast, MercedesLewis Hamilton had pitted on the previous lap for the required intermediate tyres, and Red Bull’s Max Verstappen two laps prior to the young Briton, allowing the duo to finish first and second, while Norris trailed home seventh.

Assessing the role experience played in the remarkable Russian race, via his regular post-race column, Brawn said: “We saw this last year in Turkey, where conditions were tricky, that experience counted and the same was the case in Russia.

“The likes of Lewis and Max came through and bagged the top places and Lando’s inexperience showed a bit.

“But he will make a better decision next time he’s in that scenario. The others had been in that situation, and they could call on that experience.

“Lando will go away from this and become a stronger driver. So much would have been preying on his mind, including the fact he managed to cope in qualifying better than anyone else. I see why he was insistent with his team.

“You could ask, should his McLaren team have taken the lead and insisted he pit when he said he didn’t want to?

“A driver is in a bubble. He doesn’t see what’s going on. In this case, I’d say it’s 60/40 in favour of the team making the decision but it’s so difficult because you don’t want to give up the lead of the race.

“That sinking feeling a driver or a team gets when they realise they made the wrong call, and the lead is evaporating before their very eyes, is horrible. They have my sympathies, but that kind of drama is what makes F1 so fantastic.”

Brawn still made Norris his driver of the day given his calm, confident performance over the first 48 laps after the 21-year-old had secured his maiden pole on Saturday.

“Listening to him on the radio when the team were talking to him, his composure was impressive,” added Brawn. “He’s come on leaps and bounds in the last couple of years.”

Brawn, though, recognises Norris “will be hurting right now”.

He continued: “We all felt his pain when he slid off the track. It was a tragedy. I’ve been in that situation when you need to make a big strategy call.

“I’ve won races by hanging on, I’ve lost races by hanging on. A good example is when Rubens Barrichello won the German Grand Prix in 2000 for Ferrari. We insisted on him coming in and he said ‘no way’ and he hung on and won the race.

“Those scenarios are so difficult and in Sochi, it was especially tricky as only half the track was wet. Even with radar, no one is completely certain how wet it will be.

“And if you’re leading a race, you don’t want to give it up. When you’re in the front, the guy in second has a much easier decision to make as he has nothing to lose.

“He either stays out and does what the guy in front does or takes a punt and he is unlikely to be any worse off than he was to begin with.”



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By Ava

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