Lando Norris has first race win cruelly snatched away

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McLaren driver Lando Norris says he’s ‘devastated’ after having his first victory cruelly snatched away due to a wrong tyre call in the closing stages of the Russian Grand Prix.

The 21-year-old had the race under control, with a comfortable lead over Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton, before rain caused chaos in the final laps.

While most of the drivers stopped for intermediate tyres, including Hamilton, Norris made the decision to stay out on slicks, despite his team suggesting he make the change.

With just three laps remaining the rain intensified and Norris was virtually a passenger, skating off the circuit as he struggled to keep control.

Hamilton cruised past to claim the win, as Norris was eventually forced to pit, dropping him to seventh.

“I’m unhappy. Devastated in a way,” Norris told Sky Sports.

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“I guess we made a call to stay out. I think we stand by that call of course. It was the wrong one at the end of the day, but I made a decision just as much as the team.

“In fact, it was more that they thought I should box and I decided to stay out. So it was my decision. I thought it was the way to go.”

The rain cost McLaren a second consecutive victory, after Daniel Ricciardo’s win at Monza two weeks ago.

“Just a bit of heartbreak,” Norris said.

“I felt I did everything I could, even when it got tricky at the end. I made a couple of mistakes but still kept Lewis behind and started to pull away a little bit.

“So it was a bit of luck, like the laps I was out before Lewis boxed, it was I think perfectly fine for the tyres I was on, and I got told the rain was going to stay the same.

“If it was the same amount then we made the right decision and I think staying out was the correct decision. But it obviously got a lot wetter than we as a team expected and that had us over in the end.”

Norris had only led one lap in his F1 career prior to this race, but showed the poise of a veteran as he controlled the race.

He said had the rain arrived earlier it would have been a different story.

“Especially when there’s only two laps to go,” he explained. “If there are 20 to go you are maybe not as aggressive with decisions, but we did what we thought was right, which I’m unhappy with of course. It was wrong at the end of the day.

“Everything until then, the guys did an excellent job and have done all weekend. So I’m happy with basically everything apart from that one decision which we’ll review and hopefully try not make again.”

Hamilton had also wanted to stay out on his slick tyres at the end, but was overruled by the Mercedes strategists, who called him in for intermediates, in what proved to be the race-winning decision.

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McLaren boss Andreas Seidl said after the race that the team had to accept some responsibility for what happened.

“Of course we’re disappointed, he’s very disappointed,” Seidl told Sky Sports.

“But that’s part of the sport we’re in, in hindsight it’s always easy to judge what we could have done differently.

“We didn’t get it together as a team, it was the wrong decision to stay out.”

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