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McLaren's Norris abandons Belgian 'political' helmet design

Norris in third practice at Spa-Francorchamps on Saturday
Norris in third practice at Spa-Francorchamps on Saturday JOHN THYS POOL/AFP
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Spa-Francorchamps (Belgium) (AFP)

McLaren driver Lando Norris on Saturday abandoned wearing a new helmet design after discovering that it may have political significance.

The Briton, who has Belgian grandparents, had introduced a new-look helmet for the Belgian Grand Prix, which included a black lion on a yellow background, the flag of the Flemish region.

But when he was informed that the image is used by a Belgian right-wing political party, he decided to stop using it.

"I wasn’t aware of the connotations around the use of this particular motif when I designed the helmet," he said. "As soon as I was, it was clear that it was inappropriate to continue using it."

He added that he had wished to "pay tribute to my Belgian roots and my family, in particular my grandparents whose picture I put on the back".

"The helmet was never intended to be a political statement, for me personally it was simply a cool design that paid tribute to part of my heritage," he said.

"I never want to cause division or offence and I understand that using the helmet would have offended many people in Belgium. With that in mind, I’ve decided to go back to my standard helmet."

Norris explained that he regarded the Belgian race as his second ‘home’ event.

"I’m 50 per cent Belgian," he said. "And 50 per cent from the UK. We used to come here for Christmas and Easter and everyone on my mum’s side lives out here.

"The only reason I would say Silverstone or the GB race is more of a home race is just because that’s where I’ve grown up."

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