McLaren has announced Lando Norris will replace Stoffel Vandoorne and race for its Formula 1 team in 2019.
Just an hour after confirming Vandoorne will leave the team at the end of the season, McLaren revealed 18-year-old Norris will step up from his reserve role to partner Carlos Sainz in an all-new driver line-up. Since becoming the youngest karting world championship winner at 14, Norris has won the MSA Formula, Formula Renault 2.0 and European F3 championships in consecutive years. Currently second in the F2 standings, the promotion of Norris is seen as a long-term move by Zak Brown.
“We’re very pleased to finally be able to reveal who will complete our driver line-up at McLaren for 2019,” the McLaren Racing CEO said. “We believe Lando is an exciting talent, full of potential, who we’ve very deliberately kept within the McLaren fold for exactly that reason.
“We already know he’s fast, he learns quickly, and has a mature head on his young shoulders. We see much potential for our future together. The investment we have made in his budding career with simulator development and seat-time in the car has been well-deserved, as he has continued to prove his abilities both behind the wheel and in his work with the engineering team.
“Lando is an integral part of our plan for rebuilding our Formula 1 operation for the future, and he has already developed a strong relationship with the team.
“In Lando and Carlos we have an impressive duo who, despite their relative youth, hold valuable experience in Formula 1 and with McLaren, and represent the next generation of McLaren drivers to lead the team forward. While our short-term focus is fixed on securing the best possible result for the remainder of the 2018 season, we’re also massively motivated by the opportunities that lie ahead.”
While he hasn’t won since the season-opening race in Bahrain, Norris is just 22 points behind championship leader George Russell in F2 and says his sights are on moving up to F1 as champion.
“To be announced as a race driver for McLaren is a dream come true,” Norris said. “Although I’ve been part of the team for a while now, this is a special moment, one I could only hope would become reality.
“I’d like to thank the whole team for this amazing opportunity and for believing in me. I’m also extremely grateful for the commitment McLaren has already shown in my development, allowing me to build my experience in a Formula 1 car in both testing and on Fridays during the past two race weekends.
“For the remainder of 2018, my focus remains firmly on the Formula 2 championship. My objective is to win the title before joining McLaren full-time, which will be tough, but I will fight as hard as I can for the remaining four races. I’ll also be working closely with McLaren at every opportunity to learn as much as possible from the drivers, engineers and mechanics to give myself the best preparation ahead of next year.”