Lando Norris believes being paired with Carlos Sainz rather than Fernando Alonso next season is a better move for McLaren’s future as it looks to rebuild.
McLaren is currently the lowest-ranked Renault-powered team in sixth place and has endured a run of uncompetitive years, with the team finishing no higher than fifth in the constructors’ championship since 2013. While a technical restructuring has been ongoing throughout 2018, next year will also see a brand new driver line-up, and rookie Norris feels McLaren will benefit from having two younger drivers as Alonso leaves Formula 1.
“As much as I would have loved to partner Fernando — which I did manage to do for three laps at Monza — for as much as I admire Fernando and I loved working with him from Daytona all the way through McLaren, I think for the longevity of McLaren and helping them improve as a team together I think having Carlos is another thing where we can really push each other together,” Norris said.
“I think Fernando, if he was here again next year, he would definitely help the team improve but I think going throughout all the years it is good teams have fresh starts every now and then. Especially with where McLaren are now.
“I don’t think it is a bad thing or a good thing that I am going with Carlos. I look forward to working with him as I have never spoken to him or met him so I look forward to it.
“It is a shame because I really would have loved the opportunity to drive with Fernando. Hopefully I will in the future whether it is in Formula 1 or some endurance race. I would like to. But for McLaren and myself I think it is the best thing.”
With Zak Brown saying Norris is as quick as anyone McLaren has seen at his age, the 18-year-old was asked if he was faster than Alonso during their Daytona run earlier this year and in practice in Monza, to which he replied: “No comment!
“I guess all drivers want to think they are faster than anyone else, but I think it is hard to compare. If I was doing a whole season alongside him then I think there could be a very even comparison but I think that the biggest opportunity I had was to race with him at Daytona.
“Even though he was five or six kilos heavier than me I think the lap times were pretty even because the car was ballasted to my weight and not to his which is obviously a good thing for me.
“I don’t think it is a thing I need to know or work out, I think it is a thing I can have in the back in my mind of how I did at Monza and Daytona against him. I can’t even say to myself if I know I am fast or slow but in a few years if I can end up being quicker than what he was it is very difficult to say at the moment.”