Atlantic crossing

Monday 20 May 2024

It was yet another busy – and successful – weekend for premier league British drivers on both sides of the Atlantic. In Italy, Lando Norris came close to back-to-back Grand Prix wins while, over in the US, all three home-born entrants qualified for this year’s running of the Indianapolis 500 showpiece.  

Having scored his breakthrough win two weeks ago in Miami, a fast-finishing Norris charged down Max Verstappen to come within striking distance of the world champion who had led from pole position at Imola. 

“I was just praying for one more lap,” admitted the on-form McLaren man who has now posted a hat-track of F1 podiums. “I did everything I could. I was pushing like crazy to catch up and have a chance. It’s a shame but, nevertheless, I’m happy with the outcome.” 

Norris is now looking forward to renewing his rivalry with Verstappen in Monaco, though he admits the Armco-lined harbourside streets present a totally dissimilar challenge.  

“It’s such a different circuit,” he admitted, “but the team has a good amount of confidence and we’re fighting at the front against the Red Bulls and Ferraris – that’s the expectation now.” 

Callum Ilott was a last-minute entry into the 108th running of the Indy 500, filling the fourth seat at Arrow McLaren… and in Saturday’s qualifying he was the fastest of the trio of competing British drivers.  

Underlining his versatility, the 25-year-old from Cambridge arrived at the Indiana Speedway fresh from an historic victory in the Spa 6 Hours where he was racing for Hertz Team Jota, the first non-manufacturer entry to win a round of the World Endurance Championship in the Hypercar era.  

Last year, Ilott started 27th and finished 12th – a similar 15 place rise this year would see him become the fifth Brit to win the famous 500, emulating the achievements of Jim Clark, Graham Hill, Dan Wheldon (twice) and Dario Franchitti (three times).  

Tom Blomqvist, one of six rookies in the field, and Katherine Legge could also add their names to that revered roster – they, however, have rather more ground to make up having qualified 25th and 31st respectively on the oversubscribed 33-car grid.  

The 2024 Indianapolis 500 will be broadcast live on Sky Sports F1 with coverage commencing at 5:30 pm on Sunday 26 May.