Lando Norris says that approaches from other Formula 1 teams played a role in his signing a new long-term contract with McLaren so soon after his latest extension.
McLaren took up an option on Norris only last May, but the 22-year-old went on to have an outstanding season that included his first pole position and multiple podiums, and said those results drew attention from other teams about his future plans.
“I mean there were little chats here and there, but that’s all, and nothing went far,” Norris said. “And as soon as something came up, that’s when I would then continue going to Andreas and have a little conversation about what our future holds, and so on.
“There were little things, no point lying about it, there were little things here and there with other teams, but nothing that went far at all.
“(Which teams)? That’s something I can’t say. You’d probably be able to guess reasonably well…”
Norris admitted that the extension he signed in 2021 didn’t have the expected impact of putting other teams off from speaking to him about a future move.
“Yep, there were opportunities that I think we knew would be coming up in the future with various teams,” he said. “This is a very strong message to put out across everyone – the faith we have in each other, and how strongly I believe McLaren can recover and get to the front in the next few years, even with those opportunities that could arise in one year, two years, three years’ time. I think it’s a strong message and definitely one for the others, so I’m all good.
“Of course, there will be opportunities for other drivers, I am sure, and maybe (they’ll) go to Red Bull or Mercedes. Who knows if I would have had those opportunities. I think the fact that it’s known, or the fact I would have those opportunities but I still chose to stay with McLaren, is the good thing about all of this – that I know those opportunities or I am confident that those opportunities would arise in the next few years, but the fact is I still have chosen to commit to McLaren.
“So I think that’s quite a strong message. This is still where I want to be, it’s where I want to achieve race wins and podiums and championships, and that’s all. I did weigh in all the factors for my own benefit and what I think could have come up in the next few years with drivers leaving and so on, but in the end, McLaren for me was still the best option, so that’s why I am most happy to be here and commit to my team.”
Team principal Andreas Seidl said that there are no exit clauses for Norris if the likes of Mercedes, Red Bull or Ferrari come calling during the duration of the contract.
“The beauty of this new agreement we have in place is there’s no get-outs on both sides,” Seidl said. “Which is simply the important message we wanted to give to the team as well, because that shows that we are in this together and that there’s a strong belief from both sides. From our side, in the talent Lando is and at the same time from Lando’s side, in believing we can actually get there in these next few years.”