McLaren rooking Lando Norris. File picture: Anton Vaganov / Reuters.
McLaren rooking Lando Norris. File picture: Anton Vaganov / Reuters.

This is F1's rookie of the year, according to fans

By Alan Baldwin Time of article published Dec 17, 2019

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LONDON - McLaren's Lando Norris has been voted Rookie of the Year by an overwhelming majority in an online vote of Formula One fans, despite the fact that Red Bull's Alexander Albon finished higher in the championship.

Anglo-Thai racer Albon, who started out at Toro Rosso this season and then graduated to the senior Red Bull team, was named Rookie of the Year by the governing FIA at their awards in Paris last week.

British newcomer Norris, 20, received 76% of the votes in a poll conducted by the official Formula One website.

Albon was second with 16% and Williams' British rookie George Russell third on 8%. A total of 86 922 fans voted in the online poll.

Albon finished the season eighth overall, with Norris in 11th place and Russell settling for last place, in a Williams that scored only one point from 21 races.

Norris has become a fan favourite with a strong social media presence, quirky attitude and jokey relationship with Spanish team mate Carlos Sainz.

At the final race of the season in Abu Dhabi, his departing performance engineer Andrew Jarvis hailed him over the team radio as "an absolute legend'.

"I can't believe the rookie year you've had. And the fact that I've had the opportunity to share it with you," said Jarvis, before his voice faltered.

"Are you crying?," replied Norris with a squeal of laughter. "I think I'm crying." 

However, it wasn’t a year without hiccups for Norris, the rookie having been handed a repair bill earlier this year after crashing a McLaren 720S into the gravel during an event at Silverstone where he was taking on retired racing driver and TV personality Johnny Herbert, the Daily Mail reported.

"Jonny was talking to me too much. It was a talent failure," Norris joked after the accident, although it appears his McLaren team was less than amused.


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