MONZA, Italy (Reuters) - Lando Norris has told his parents not to worry for his safety after French racer Anthoine Hubert was killed in Belgium last weekend, but the youngest driver on the Formula One grid recognises that is easier said than done.
“I think that’s what you’ve got to say,” the 19-year-old McLaren driver told reporters ahead of Sunday’s Italian Grand Prix.
“It’s what I want to say, but I’m sure that’s what every other driver said and then we have what happened last weekend... I still want to say that but obviously I’m a bit more nervous to say it now.”
Norris revealed that his wealthy businessman father Adam, who has accompanied him to most races throughout his career, was physically sick after witnessing the Formula Two crash at Spa.
“He can’t even watch the TV on a normal race, he can’t even watch my onboard (cameras) for the start,” said the McLaren driver, who raced in F2 last year and has had an impressive debut season in Formula One.
“He has to go somewhere and hide because he just doesn’t want to see. So when it goes even worse, the situation like it was, he can’t take it.
“It is the same for my mum. She is not there at the track that often but she still worries, as she always does. But it is not at the same level as someone who is there all the time and knows what is going on and all the speed.”
Norris said the events of last weekend were still very much in mind as he prepared for Monza, the fastest track of the year where cars hit speeds of more than 320kph, but it was also time to move on.
As a racing driver, he said, he accepted the inherent dangers of the job and had felt no need to seek emotional support about it.
“It’s quite a personal thing and not something I need to or want to go and tell everyone or explain,” he said.
“It’s more just realising for myself and trying to not let it affect me in any negative way or anything and to continue to race for him (Hubert).”
On a lighter note, the teenager looked forward to a helmet swap with Italian MotoGP great Valentino Rossi after the Monza weekend.
Norris, who is set to start from the back of the grid after an engine change, is sporting a special helmet and boots in tribute to his boyhood idol, a nine-times motorcycling world champion.
“I’ve got two of the helmets and two pairs of boots and hopefully we’ll do a helmet swap. My first ever helmet swap,” he said.
Reporting by Alan Baldwin, editing by Christian Radnedge