McLaren says it is very happy with Lando Norris' maiden practice outing after the Briton drove the MCL33 during FP1 at Spa last weekend. The Formula 2 racer ended the session in P18 with a best lap time of 1:47.364, which was faster than Stoffel Vandoorne.
Norris is set to drive the car again this weekend at Monza, taking over Vandoorne's car rather than Fernando Alonso's. Speaking about his run in Belgium last Friday, the team's sporting director Gil de Ferran was impressed by his efforts.
“One thing he certainly has is he adapts himself very quickly to any new situation,” he said. “I've seen that on the tests that he had and the same thing happened here.
“As part of his development, we wanted to bring him into FP1 because of different downforce levels, a lot more cars on the track, a lot of track evolution and wanted to give him that experience. He came up to speed very quickly and did a fine job for us, didn't make any mistakes. He was absolutely fine.”
Norris has been heavily linked with a 2019 race seat at McLaren. The team has already signed up Carlos Sainz, while Esteban Ocon and Sergio Perez are also in the frame. De Ferran added that Norris' practice outings are not assessments, but rather a method of developing him as a driver.
"You called it assessment, I call it development. “It's very hard to assess a driver in the strength of one free practice or one session or one qualifying session," the 2003 Indy-500 winner
“I think you need to step back and take a wider view. That's been the same for everyone. I think these free practice sessions are really more about giving Lando exposure and help him along the development plan.”
Bahrain International Circuit - Winter testing