Lando Norris has aimed a playful dig at compatriot and friend George Russell after unveiling his specially designed crash helmet ahead of this weekend’s Miami Grand Prix.
For the first time in 63 years, Formula 1 has headed to Florida for the 72nd championship race held in the United States of America, and plenty of the teams and driver have been soaking in the atmosphere Stateside.
Valtteri Bottas went to California, San Diego and Utah in the build-up, while Yuki Tsunoda and Max Verstappen had some fun in New York.
The teams and drivers have also been donning American themes on their apparel this weekend; Mercedes and Pierre Gasly have revealed special NFT designs for the weekend, and Williams teamed up with SURGE to put some vibrant graffiti on their car.
As for Norris, he took inspiration from the Miami Heat basketball team, and gave him helmet design a special basketball texture.
Asked about what his inspiration was, he quipped that it speaks for itself.
“It’s just a basketball. Everyone’s asking what’s the inspiration and I think it’s quite obvious. It’s just a basketball,” he said.
“I kind of knew everyone was going to go for palm trees and boring stuff. I just wanted to do something very different. It’s not like elegant and wow, but it’s simple and different.”
He then amusingly eluded to the “porpoising” Russell and Sir Lewis Hamilton have been suffering at Mercedes under the new technical regulations this season.
“It’s cool. Maybe it would have suited George more, considering they like bouncing a bit more,” he joked.
Norris ended FP1 in Miami in 11th place, before finishing sixth in FP2 having seen Max Verstappen, Carlos Sainz and Nicholas Latifi all collide with the barrier with varying degrees of severity.
He puts those incidents down to the track facilitating very little grip off the racing line, so his first impressions of the ride around the Hard Rock Stadium are not so positive.
“It’s extremely tricky,” he said.
“It’s very bumpy in some areas which is maybe not quite what we were expecting and I think [not] what a lot of people were expecting.
“I think everyone was expecting it to be very smooth and beautiful but it’s not. The surface is very tricky as well.
“You go off line anywhere and it’s pretty much game over, you spin and you end up in the wall so it’s punishing let’s say.
“That’s why you see quite a few people ending up in the barriers. It’s a bit weird, like if you go off line anywhere it’s just terrible so I’m hoping they can do something a little bit better, I don’t know what.
“I think when they clean the track, it helps, like this morning there was a lot of marbles and stuff and as soon as you went off line it was game over.
“It was the same in P2, it started better but as soon as there’s a little bit of marbles, you go off line and it’s terrible so I feel like it’s not going to be great for racing now.”