SPORT

Lando Norris: The Next Lewis Hamilton?

24/04/2013 15:36 BST

‘The next Lewis Hamilton’ is a phrase often thrown about for young motorsport talents, but for 13-year-old Lando Norris, it has more right to stick than most.

For not only has the Glastonbury racer just won the world’s most prestigious karting event in the WSK Euro Series with a round to spare – he’s also part of a team run by Fraser Sheader – one of the only drivers to beat Lewis Hamilton to a title during his early career.

In 1998, Sheader beat Hamilton to the JICA Champions of the Future crown, a rare defeat for Hamilton that pushed him on to greater things.

But while Hamilton went on to F1 riches and glory, Sheader – along with business partner Mark Berryman - eventually put his time back into finding and nurturing the next star.

Step forward Lando Norris, who last year won the Formula Kart Stars Championship title at the tender age of 12 and has now gone one better in winning the WSK Euro Series this weekend – beating much older and more experienced drivers than he.

He said: “It’s brilliant, I didn’t expect to do so well so quickly and to win the title with a round to spare is amazing. We’re really happy.

“I had two good wins earlier in the competition and then did what I needed here to win the championship.

“It’s been a really good year, but hopefully there’s more to come.”

You Tube clips showing Hamilton’s rare defeat to Sheader have left racing fans scratching their heads in the comments section as to whatever happened to the winner.

But Sheader was never far away.

He said: “After beating Lewis I carried on karting and had some success at British level, but when it came to making the step up to cars we were under prepared at many levels.

“There are a lot of teenagers doing well in karting who just aren’t ready for what a big step up cars is going to be and that’s why we started ADD Motorsports – to help bridge that gap.”

The team put an emphasis on preparing their drivers from a young age so the transition to cars doesn’t seem such a big step when they are eventually ready.

lando norris

Norris celebrates his most recent win last week

And it’s already paying dividends, with the team looking after drivers from around the world including F3’s rising stars Mitchell Gilbert and John Bryant-Meisener and karting brothers Oli and Lando Norris. British F3 2012 champion Jack Harvey also benefitted from their expertise.

In encouraging a more scientific approach, in body, mind and mechanics, they are watching the drivers they manage come on in huge leaps and bounds.

But few outside close family and friends realise the work he is putting in behind the scenes.

An ADD Motorsports nutritionist has young Lando on a tailor-made diet, teaching him how important the right fuel is for the body – not just the engine - even at his tender age; a sports psychologist is on hand to help with his personal development; a gym program focusing on building up parts of the body that are seen as weaker than others has been put together; the list goes on, and is the same for all the other drivers also.

Even areas such as media training are not forgotten, ensuring drivers are at ease with talking to the press and media from a young age meaning they have one less thing to worry about when they move up to cars.

lewis hamilton

Hamilton was F1 World Champion in 2008

That’s not to mention a host of technical and driving issues ADD measure and adjust regularly with their drivers that they would prefer not to talk about for fear of giving too much away!

“It’s the little things that may go unchecked or unchallenged by others, or technical issues that aren’t addressed, that we concentrate on with the drivers,” said Berryman.

“Better eating habits, a better mindset and strength conditioning at a young age can boost the drivers’ performances by a few per cent at a time, which translates to a lot more on the track and is the difference between a podium place and an also-ran.”

ADD believe sports psychology and driving go hand-in-hand and have embraced the science where others have dismissed it.

Sheader said: “Most drivers massively under-estimate how difficult the step up is going to be.

“They step into a Formula car and it can be very demoralising for them. Don’t forget, these can be teenagers who are used to winning all the time, and now they get in the car and everything is alien to them.

“You have to prepare them early for this, make them realise it’s not going to be all plain sailing and prepare them for losses early on in that step up as well.

“If they are not prepared in this manner, the losses can seem even bigger.”

It’s exciting times for the company that is certainly on the way up.

But as for Sheader, does he ever get a pang of jealousy when he sees Hamilton standing on a podium?

“Not at all, he took his chances and is an amazing driver,” he said.

“He has earned his reputation, but it’s funny looking back at those videos, they were amazing times.

“But now it’s about helping other young drivers reach their potential.

“Maybe we can be lucky enough to help find and nurture the next Lewis Hamilton?”

Remember the name, Lando Norris.