McLaren show confidence in multi-championship winning British teenager ahead of 18th birthday
Britain’s rising motor racing star Lando Norris is to be McLaren’s official Formula 1 test and reserve driver in 2018. Norris, who celebrates only his 18th birthday one week today (13 Nov), will attend Grands Prix next season working closely with double World Champion Fernando Alonso and Stoffel Vandoorne. Lando will also be involved with the engineering and marketing teams as he develops and expands his understanding of the role of a modern F1 driver. He will also attend and take part in the team’s 2018 testing programme, with active roles both on-track and in the simulator.
Norris has been a member of the McLaren Young Driver programme since February this year and his graduation is a clear sign that the Woking-based team have been impressed with the talented teenager’s undenied talent and work ethic. On-track this year, Lando has continued his meteoric rise up the motor racing “ladder” by becoming the youngest FIA Formula 3 European Champion in history – his first full season in the ultra-competitive category.
His latest success adds to the MSA Formula Championship (2015), Toyota Racing Series, Formula Renault Eurocup and Formula Renault Northern European Cup titles (all 2016) having won the 2013 World Karting Championship. In the 160 races Norris has contested since the beginning of 2015, he has achieved an incredible 99 podiums – winning 44 races.
In August Lando, who won the prestigious McLaren Autosport BRDC Young Driver Award last December, massively impressed in his first official F1 test, spending a day developing the MCL32 at the Hungaroring in August. Norris ultimately achieved the second fastest time of the day – denied the top-spot by four-time Formula One World Champion Sebastian Vettel. He has also attended Grands Prix as a guest of McLaren this year and has spent time in the F1 simulator at the McLaren Technology Centre.
“No words cannot fully describe my feelings to be given this amazing opportunity by McLaren. My first introduction to the [McLaren] brand came with winning the McLaren Autosport BRDC Young Driver Award last December and then within two months, I was selected on to its McLaren Young Driver programme. Both have been an incredible experience. But to now get the chance as an official test and reserve driver in 2018 is another vital step towards my goal of one day racing in F1.
“It’s also a fantastic opportunity to become further integrated within the McLaren ‘family’ and that starts next week with a tyre test at Interlagos. I’ll continue to work hard and my aim is to broaden my skills. I have two excellent tutors in Fernando [Alonso] and Stoffel [Vandoorne] and the intention is to help with the team’s efforts to get back to the front. My management team is working hard to finalise my own racing programme for 2018 which will be either Super Formula in Japan or Formula 2. In terms of Formula 3, I will sign off from this category in Macau the weekend after next.”
Zak Brown, McLaren Technology Group Executive Director, said:
“Lando is an outstanding young talent. Today’s announcement is thoroughly deserved, and underlines the incredible high regard in which we hold his abilities. By winning last year in Formula Renault, triumphing in the McLaren Autosport BRDC Young Driver Award, and then showing the speed and consistency needed to win the European F3 championship, he is undoubtedly carving himself a reputation as one of the very best up-and-coming single-seater drivers in the world.
“His summer test for McLaren was also remarkably impressive, and was further proof that he is ready to step up and take on a role of this size, scope and responsibility. At McLaren, we are all extremely keen to help him achieve his goal of racing in Formula 1.”
Eric Boullier, McLaren Racing Director, said:
“We feel it’s very important to have a fully enrolled test and reserve driver within the team. Lando will attend grands prix and become a fully integrated member of the team. Lando is somebody who arrives with a very high level of ability, ambition and application; it is our job to develop and fine-tune his focus as we increase his understanding of how a Formula 1 team operates and how a modern grand prix car works. There will be plenty of opportunity to observe, learn and participate throughout 2018, and we want to make sure Lando is fully prepared, if needed, to step into Fernando or Stoffel’s shoes at a moment’s notice.”