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F1’s Lando Norris wins his debut in IndyCar iRacing Challenge at COTA

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VIRTUAL AUSTIN, Texas — Lando Norris rebounded from a midrace spin Saturday, and the Formula One driver rallied to win the IndyCar iRacing Challenge at Circuit of The Americas.

The McLaren driver, who was making his debut in the series, took the lead when Felix Rosenqvist spun out of first with four laps remaining.

Norris finished 1.249 seconds ahead of Arrow McLaren SP teammate Pato O’Ward and Rosenqvist. Scott McLaughlin and Santino Ferrucci rounded out the top five.

FULL BOXSCORE: Click here to see the complete results from COTA

POSTRACE REACTION: What drivers said after the race at COTA

REUNITED IN SIM: Colton Herta and Norris have a history together

“It was not easy at all,” said Norris, who led 15 of 32 laps. “Obviously the spin was a tough race. Especially Pato closing in on new tires at the end. I didn’t think I was going back to the lead, but Will (Power) spun. That was a key to get back to P1.”

Said O’Ward, who had been training with Norris and teammates Oliver Askew and Robert Wickens this week: “Man, Lando is quick in the sim. The whole week, we were really working as a team to improve each of us. Our whole teamwork and proud we ended 1-2. I was pushing hard to get to him at the end but couldn’t quite get to him.”

Rosenqvist said he spun because “it was probably me operating above my limits trying to keep (Norris) behind me.”

Norris started on the pole position in his IndyCar iRacing Challenge debut and led the first 11 laps before pitting.

But the up and comer (who is entering his second full-time season in F1) spun midway through the race after a Lap 12 competition caution. After stopping ahead of the three-lap yellow, the Englishman was trying to make up ground on new leader Will Power just after the race went green again.

“I was swearing quite a bit but won’t repeat that now,” Norris told the IndyCar on NBC booth with a laugh about the incident. “I was really annoyed. We’ve been so strong as a team, learning about our driving between us and trying to improve. To throw it away as stupidly as I did just by trying to be a bit eager on the gas on the throttle out of the last corner, which is probably a tricky one as it comes over the crest.

“And I was annoyed because there’s so much work. Everything else went really well on a different strategy from a lot of the other guys. I feel like I threw it all away and lost the opportunity to go for the win. I had the pace and wanted to try to come back through, which is what I did with some other guys making mistakes. We managed to get back through and into the lead.”

Power seemed in command for his first victory in the series, but the Team Penske driver spun twice shortly after his pit stop. Power finished sixth.

The IndyCar iRacing Challenge will conclude May 2 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway, which was announced Saturday as the “Dream” track selected for the finale.

Michael Schumacher’s son to make F1 practice debut at Nurburgring

F1 Mick Schumacher
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MARANELLO, Italy — Mick Schumacher, son of the legednary seven-time champion, will have an official Formula One drive during an F1 race weekend for the first time next week at the Nurburgring, Alfa Romeo and Ferrari said Tuesday.

Schumacher gets the practice drive in an Alfa Romeo on Oct. 9 on his home track in Germany as a member of Ferrari’s young driver program, taking over Antonio Giovinazzi’s car for the first session of the weekend.

“I am overjoyed to get this chance in free practice,” Schumacher said in a statement. “I’m going to prepare myself well, so that I can do the best possible job for the team and gain some valuable data for the weekend.”

The 21-year-old Schumacher leads the Formula 2 standings after winning races in Monza and Sochi. He won the European Formula 3 championship in 2018 and tested a Ferrari F1 car in Bahrain in April 2019. He also has done demonstration runs in his father’s old cars, most recently this month ahead of the Tuscan Grand Prix in a championship-winning 2004 Ferrari.

Michael Schumacher holds the F1 record with 91 victories, which Lewis Hamilton is on the verge of tying.

Ferrari said two other drivers in its academy program will also get practice drives in Formula One.

Callum Ilott, a British driver who is second to Mick Schumacher in F2, will drive an F1 Haas at the Nurburgring on the same day as Schumacher. Russian driver Robert Shwartzman will drive in practice for the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix on Dec. 11, though Ferrari hasn’t said for which team.

The German round was added to the F1 schedule after the coronavirus pandemic disrupted the season and will be officially known as the Eifel Grand Prix after a nearby mountain range. The Nurburgring last hosted F1 in 2013.