Not long after confirming Stoffel Vandoorne would lose his seat in 2019, McLaren announced rising star Lando Norris will step up to replace him and make his Formula 1 debut…
Norris is currently second in the F2 championship, trailing Mercedes junior George Russell, but he has been increasing his time behind the wheel of a Formula 1 car this season.
The Briton, who joined the McLaren Young Driver Programme in 2017, tested the MCL33 during the post-Hungarian Grand Prix 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.
McLaren have opted to give the Briton his F1 debut next year in place of the departing Vandoorne, and he'll partner Carlos Sainz who will join from Renault to replace double world champion Fernando Alonso, in what will be an all-new line-up.
“We believe Lando is an exciting talent, full of potential, who we’ve very deliberately kept within the McLaren fold for exactly that reason,” said McLaren Racing CEO Zak Brown.
“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, 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.”
Norris added: “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.
“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.”