True to his image as the fresh-faced, clean-cut poster-boy of McLaren, Lando Norris claimed on Thursday that he would forsake all temptation on his debut season in Formula One.
“I find the negative effect of a hangover outweighs getting drunk,” said the 19-year-old, the youngest Briton ever to drive at the highest level. “You won’t see me out in London getting hammered.”
Quite what his predecessor James Hunt, who won a world title for McLaren in 1976, would have made of such a remark is anybody’s guess. But this is a sport that has changed beyond recognition over the past 43 years.
While today’s turbo-hybrid engines sound like hairdryers compared to the screaming V8s of Hunt’s colourful era, the drivers are quieter, too. Where Hunt’s idea of downtime was to quaff vast amounts of champagne in the company of airline stewardesses, Norris would prefer to remain cooped up inside his flat in Guildford playing computer games.
“I don’t like drinking at all,” he said, as McLaren’s 2019 car was paraded in a lavish presentation at their Woking headquarters. “I haven’t done it for a while, so I don’t think I’ll get into that. I enjoy simulator racing more – it’s my passion.”