Lando Norris has opened up on live television to the scale of the mental health difficulties he faced when he first arrived in Formula 1, admitting he was often depressed.

The McLaren driver, who came close to winning the recent Russian Grand Prix, says that the smiley and happy image that he has carried with him throughout his career does not tell the true story of feelings he had a few years ago.

And he says that the doubts that went around his mind about whether or not he was good enough for F1 during his rookie campaign had a big impact on him.

Speaking live on ITV show This Morning, Norris explained how the reality of what drivers go through behind the scenes can be a world away from what fans think they experience.

“I guess people, from when they just watch TV, don't realise many things that a driver goes through,” he said. “And it's a bit of shame, but there are more programmes now where you get to see what the driver is like behind the scenes, and the amount of pressure and stress that they have to cope with.

“Especially at my age, coming into Formula 1 at 19, there's a lot of eyes on you. So, dealing with all these kinds of things, took its toll on me.”

Norris said that the immense pressure to perform to ensure that he didn’t blow his first opportunity in F1 was hard to battle with.

“[It was] feeling like I don't know what's next?” he said. “If this goes wrong, if I don't go out in the next session and perform, what's going to happen?

“What's the outcome of all of this? Am I going to be in Formula 1 next year, if I'm not? What am I going to do because I'm not really good at many other things in life?

“So, just all of that, and then just feeling depressed a lot of the time that if I have a bad weekend, I just think I'm not good enough and things like that.

“When they start adding up over the season, and then the social media side of it all, that can just really start to hurt you.”

Lando Norris at Russian GP 2021

Norris says that a combination of support from his McLaren team, plus working with mental health charity Mind, has helped him get in to a much better place now.

“We partner with Mind, which have helped me massively, and also helped many other people in McLaren, but also just in the world in general,” he said.

“So speaking to McLaren, speaking to the people that are around me and my friends that I trust, and, also Mind, I'm in a much better place now. I’m much happier and I can enjoy everything I do.”

Norris is heading to this weekend’s Turkish Grand Prix off the back of McLaren’s win in Monza and his pole in Russia.

However, he says that the team is keeping expectations in check as it is well aware it still does not have a car that can match pace setters Mercedes and Red Bull at all tracks.

“There's obviously a lot of expectation on us at the moment because of Monza, where we had a 1-2, and last weekend I had pole position and almost won the race.

“So a lot of people are expecting amazing things. But we have to limit them in a way because we're still realistically not as quick as Mercedes and Red Bull, which are the leading two teams at the moment.

"We still have a lot of work to do but every race is an opportunity.”

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