McLaren driver Lando Norris celebrates his 24th birthday today, and McLaren has presented him with a remarkable gift—a chance to pilot the iconic McLaren MP4/2, once driven by the legendary Formula 1 champion Alain Prost in 1984.
This extraordinary event took place on Sunday at the Sonoma Raceway in California, during the Velocity Invitational gathering. Notably, this celebration wasn’t just about Norris’s birthday; it marked McLaren’s 60th anniversary, making it a double celebration.
Among the distinguished guests in attendance were Lando Norris himself, McLaren CEO Zak Brown, and prominent IndyCar drivers Pato O’Ward, Tony Kanaan, and Alexander Rossi.
For Lando Norris, there could be no better birthday gift than the opportunity to take the wheel of a Formula 1 legend’s car on a real racetrack. Alain Prost, a four-time Formula 1 world champion, was a luminary in the world of motorsport. He held the record for the most Grand Prix victories until Michael Schumacher surpassed the milestone with 52 wins at the 2001 Belgian Grand Prix.
Prost’s legacy in Formula One remains unassailable, despite the controversies and conflicts that occasionally overshadowed his remarkable career. During McLaren’s dominant era, which extended into 1989, the intense rivalry between Prost and Ayrton Senna for supremacy became the stuff of legends.
What began as mutual admiration gradually devolved into outright animosity. Prost accused his Brazilian teammate, Senna, of reckless driving and claimed favoritism from both McLaren and Honda. The pinnacle of their rivalry occurred during a contentious incident at Suzuka’s chicane, where Prost deliberately obstructed Senna, securing his third Formula 1 championship title.
Norris had the privilege of piloting the very car that narrowly missed out on the Formula 1 World Championship in 1984, finishing second by just half a point. Speaking of second place, the 24-year-old sensation recently shared his determination to shed his runner-up status, expressing his eagerness to clinch a race victory in the upcoming events. During a recent interview, he remarked:
“We’ve been very close the last few weekends. I’ve had a lot of, too many, but a lot of second places this year. There’s just one guy and one team in the way, but we’re getting there.”