Norris to replace Vandoorne at McLaren from next year

Rising British racer Lando Norris will make his Formula 1 debut for McLaren next season, replacing Stoffel Vandoorne.

The Formula 2 front runner has impressed the Woking-based squad with his recent runs in free practice sessions and has won the battle to become Carlos Sainz’s team-mate.

The announcement about his plans comes shortly after McLaren revealed that it is not retaining Stoffel Vandoorne for 2019.

Norris has been part of the McLaren young driver programme since 2017, having won a host of junior motorsport categories in his career including last year’s European Formula 3 title. He is currently battling with Mercedes junior George Russell for the Formula 2 championship.

Speaking about his promotion, Norris said: “To be announced as a race driver for McLaren is a dream come true. 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.”

McLaren CEO Zak Brown added: “We believe Lando is an exciting talent, full of potential, who we’ve very deliberately kept within the McLaren fold for exactly that reason.

“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.”

So fantastic news for Lando Norris. This is the perfect opportunity to showcase his talent in the pinnacle of motor racing and it’s going to be fascinating how he compares to his new McLaren team-mate Carlos Sainz.

As for Stoffel Vandoorne, this is a disappointment and ends his two year season of difficult circumstances at McLaren.

Vandoorne will part ways with the Woking-based team after the final race of the season, the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.

“We’re immensely thankful for Stoffel’s dedication, hard work and commitment during his time at McLaren,” said McLaren CEO Zak Brown.

“He’s a talented racing driver with an incredible list of accolades in his junior career. We’re proud to have played a part in his break into Formula 1, from his role as test driver to his fantastic points-scoring debut in Bahrain in 2016.

“It’s clear we haven’t provided Stoffel with the tools to show his true talent, but throughout our relationship he’s proved to be a fantastic team player. His work ethic is impressive, he has a great reputation within the team and we’ve really enjoyed working with him.

“Of course, we would have loved to achieve more success during our time together, but that doesn’t detract from the fact that he will always be a part of the McLaren family of grand prix drivers.

“For now, we look to the future and to the remaining grands prix in 2018, where I know both Stoffel and Fernando will be pushing hard to fight for as many points as possible before we close the curtain on this season.

“We wish Stoffel all the best in whatever direction he chooses to take next in his career, and we’ll be supporting him all the way. We will announce our full driver line-up for the 2019 season in due course.”

McLaren has already signed Carlos Sainz Jr to replace Fernando Alonso when the two-time champion steps down at the end of the season.

Vandoorne, who has recently had to deny speculation he could be replaced before the end of the season, thanked McLaren for its prior support for his career in a parting statement.

“I’m very grateful to McLaren for investing their faith in me over the past five years,” Vandoorne said.

“While we haven’t achieved the success we’d all hoped for, I’ve really enjoyed the past two seasons racing for McLaren and I have a great relationship with everyone in the team.

“My time at McLaren has been a great chapter in my career and I’m thankful for the opportunity the team, Shaikh Mohammed bin Essa Al Khalifa and Mansour Ojjeh have given me to gain valuable Formula 1 experience and develop as a driver.

“I intend to give it my all for the remaining seven races of this season, and will announce my plans for next season in due course.”

Best wishes to Stoffel Vandoorne. Fingers crossed he can land a decent seat in Formula 1 next season.

So all change at McLaren with Lando Norris and Carlos Sainz forming the driver line-up in 2019. Out goes the double Formula 1 champion Fernando Alonso and Stoffel Vandoorne. It’s going to be a fascinating to see how the young talent of Norris and Sainz can help move McLaren forward. Good luck!

3 thoughts to “Norris to replace Vandoorne at McLaren from next year”

  1. Lando Norris: All you need to know about McLaren’s F1 debutant as reported by

    A dream come true. That’s how Lando Norris described his switch to F1, after McLaren confirmed on Monday that the highly-rated Briton will partner Carlos Sainz next season. So how has the 18-year-old secured a drive at the iconic Woking squad? And what can fans expect from him? Here’s the lowdown…

    What’s his background?

    Like many F1 drivers, Norris’ talent became evident at a young age, with the Briton enjoying a stellar rise through the karting ranks. After dominating the national karting scene, he then won all five of the most prestigious championships at world and European level.

    Not only did he consistently win titles during his early career, but he was breaking records too. By winning the CIK-FIA KF World Championship title at the age of 14, he became the youngest karting world championship winner, following in the footsteps of a certain Lewis Hamilton.

    His step up to single-seaters has only highlighted his talent, with a string of single-seater championships – including the Formula Renault 2.0 Northern European Cup, Formula Renault 2.0 Eurocup and the Toyota Racing Series Championship in New Zealand – all won by Norris in 2016.

    That success helped him win the coveted McLaren Autosport BRDC Young Driver Award, and a year later he continued his rapid rise by contesting the European Formula 3 championship, previously won by current F1 drivers Esteban Ocon and Lance Stroll.

    It was perhaps no surprise to those who have been following his progress that he finished the 2017 season top of the standings. He signed off from the F3 category with impressive statistics, having recorded 20 front-row starts, including eight poles, and 20 podiums including nine wins, in his 32 races in 2017.

    That was a memorable year for the racer, with McLaren tying him to their development programme, and he soon got to work in their simulator.

    This year, it’s been another jam-packed calendar of racing, with the exciting prospect competing in Formula 2 with Carlin (where he has demonstrated his attacking prowess, as shown below), and he has combined those duties with his role as McLaren’s test and reserve driver.

    All of this has helped him secure a drive with McLaren in 2019, with the youngster’s move confirmed on Monday a matter of hours after Stoffel Vandoorne’s exit was announced.

    How good is he?

    The potential for him to succeed in Formula 1 is certainly there – you only need to look at his CV to see that. He’s won titles every year since 2013. It’s no surprise, then, that he was touted as a future F1 driver.

    But is it a surprise that he will make that step up next year? Perhaps, given he’ll be 19 when he makes his Formula 1 debut at next season’s Australian Grand Prix, and will partner another young driver in Sainz.

    Much has been made of his racing prowess and this year McLaren even turned down an approach from Toro Rosso in June, with the Italian squad eyeing the youngster as a replacement for Brendon Hartley for the remainder of the year.

    McLaren said no, and issued the following statement in reply to the reported move: ‘We are not surprised that other teams approach our drivers. They clearly believe they are as talented as we do.’

    That suggested Norris was indeed close to a drive with the Woking squad, who regard Norris as the most exciting product of their young driver programme since Hamilton burst into F1 in 2007.

    He’ll have a chance to prove his worth next year.

    What’s his experience in F1 machinery?

    Norris got his first taste of an F1 car at the post-Hungarian Grand Prix test last year, a move which got the F1 paddock talking. His antics on track caused a stir, too, as he finished second fastest behind Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel.

    He then tested this year’s MCL33 during the post-Hungary GP test earlier this summer and then ran on a Grand Prix weekend for the first time when he drove in FP1 at Spa and Monza.

    While those FP1 sessions are used by McLaren to work out their best set up for the Grand Prix, McLaren could still get a read on how he deals with the pressure.

    With their current drivers Fernando Alonso and Stoffel Vandoorne both leaving at the end of this season, there is a good chance Norris will get more F1 action at the remaining seven races of the season, as McLaren look to make his transition as smooth as possible.

    How’s he done in F2 this year?

    By his own admission, it’s been an underwhelming season in Formula 2. He enjoyed a superb start by winning the opening race in Bahrain, and he was leading the way for much of the early stages of the season.

    But then George Russell, the highly-rated Mercedes junior, began to pile the pressure on and Norris has been behind his fellow Brit since the Austria weekend.

    It’s been an enthralling tussle between the pair all season and heading to the Italy showdown last weekend, Norris was only five points behind Russell.

    However a disappointing weekend, in which slow starts off the line cost him, have allowed his rival to extend his championship lead to 22 points, with four races at two events now remaining.

    As it stands, that victory in Bahrain is Norris’ only triumph of the season, some way behind Russell and his five wins. But now his F1 future is confirmed, he’ll be able to focus on his quest for F2 glory.

    Who’s to say he can’t finish as champion?

    And what type of driver is he?

    He’ll keep you on the edge of your seat, that’s for sure. He’s proved his overtaking prowess on numerous occasions this season – sometimes even getting past two drivers in quick succession!

    He does, however, sometimes get it wrong (Baku springs to mind) but who doesn’t? It’s all an ongoing learning experience for a driver who also has great on-track position and defensive awareness.

    More often than not, he’s been able to get the best out of his Carlin challenger this year, and it’s usually a surprise when he isn’t fighting at the front of the field.

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