If there has been one positive outcome of the effects of The Spicy Cough, it’s that more and more people are opening up about, and becoming more accepting of, mental health issues. Millions of people have come to realise that having mental health issues need not mean you need to be admitted to an institution or seek medical-level help (though as we have reported on countless occasions, it’s always good to speak up if anything is bothering you, whether that’s with a friend or a professional). Experiencing anxiety as a symptom of not being able to leave your house for months on end, for example, is something many of us now share…
There is still a long way to go, however, and it’s still an uphill battle trying to get more men to talk about any problems they’re facing – although progress has most definitely been made – which is why it’s always inspirational to see and hear high-profile figures talking about issues that are affecting them. Case in point: Lando Norris.
The 21-year-old British-Belgian Formula One driver, who currently races for McLaren and is sitting in a rather respectable fourth place at the time of writing, entered his first official Formula One race at the tender age of 19. He had previously spent a couple of years as a junior on the McLaren team, being used as both a testing and a reserve driver.
Formula One is no doubt a daunting prospect for anyone entering for the first time, even with several years of motor racing experience under their belt, but at just 19 years old, Lando took on a pile of pressure many would argue was well beyond his years (interestingly, Lando isn’t the youngest driver on the grid at the moment, that crown belongs to Japanese AlphaTauri driver Yuki Tsunoda, who is the only driver to be born in the year 2000).
Norris recently opened up about his mental health battles on British talk show This Morning, with a video posted to TikTok by user Formula_DR3.
Check out Lando Norris’ interview on This Morning below.
Hosts Holly Willoughby and Philip Schofield questioned the British youngster about comments he’s made in the past about battles with mental health. He admitted, “When you just watch TV, you don’t realise the many things a driver goes through… Especially at my age, coming into Formula One, at 19, there’s a lot of eyes on you.”
“So all these things took their toll on me. I think about what’s next, if things go wrong, am I going to be in Formula One next year?” he told host Schofield.
“What am I going to do? Because I’m not that good at many other things in life. So, just all of that and feeling the [pressure of] the press a lot of the time.”
“If I have a bad weekend, I just think ‘I’m not good enough’. When these things add up over a season, and then you have the social media side of it all, that can just really start to hurt you.”
The interview certainly brings to the fore the difference between those in the public eye and those of us that aren’t. If we have a bad day at work, our job is still most likely to be safe, we just might have to have a sit down with our manager.
For someone like Lando, his seat in Formula One is something that is prized by many, as it’s regarded as the Holy Grail of motor racing. If he doesn’t perform, his team will be looking to replace him as soon as possible, so they can start getting the results they want. (Luckily for him, that doesn’t seem to be the case, and many have pegged him to have an exceptional career ahead of him in the sport.)
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This pressure is explained perfectly in a 2019 Medium article, in which journalist Claire Siyan Li spoke about her connection to a performance coach, who also happened to work with a number of the world’s top Formula One drivers. Speaking of one young driver in particular, who had their F1 contract cancelled after not performing at a high level, despite showing real talent in the lower tiers, she said:
“A loss at the lower levels went unnoticed or was excused by inexperience, but at the top level, each mistake could easily spell the end of his professional career.”
These mistakes can be caused by the slightest of errors, which may not even have been his fault. But a short temper meant that, “despite being blindingly fast and gifted, he was just too difficult to handle.”
“When the coach questioned him about the underlying cause of his frustration and anger he said it was driven by his intense and overwhelming desire to win. He could see his goal so close – but when a mechanic made a mistake he could see that goal slipping away while he was powerless to do anything about it.”
Again, fortunately for Lando, he hasn’t yet shown any such sign of a short temper. In fact, quite the opposite: often being the driver making jokes in and around the pit lane with other drivers, or singing to his race engineer whilst in the car.
Having finished second behind teammate Daniel Ricciardo at the Italian Grand Prix, followed by a seventh-place finish in Russia at the end of September, Lando will be going into this weekend’s Turkish Grand Prix in high spirits. Here’s hoping he works through his mental health battles, as opposed to suppressing them, and can deliver a solid result.