McLaren has confirmed that Lando Norris has been promoted to a full-time driver at the team following its announcement that Stoffel Vandoorne will leave the Woking outfit. Norris has held the role of reserve driver at McLaren in 2018 while competing in Formula 2.
The Briton made his weekend debut at Spa-Francorchamps just over a week ago, driving the MCL33 during free practice one. He got another outing at Monza last Friday as McLaren continued his development.
Norris won the 2017 European Formula 3 Championship and currently sits in second place in the Formula 2 standings. The 18-year-old joined McLaren as a junior driver in 2017 after winning the McLaren Autosport BRDC Award in 2016.
"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.”
Norris will partner Carlos Sainz, who was confirmed as Fernando Alonso's replacement in August. McLaren CEO Zak Brown says that he is pleased with its line-up, as it brings both youth and experience to the team.
“We’re very pleased to finally be able to reveal who will complete our driver line-up at McLaren for 2019," the American 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."
Bahrain International Circuit - Winter testing