Wolff urges Williams to develop ‘next superstar’

Date published: December 27 2017

Toto Wolff feels Williams should hire one of the “really bright talented kids” to partner Lance Stroll next season, but says he is aware of the “financial reality”.

Felipe Massa’s retirement means the Grove-based squad have a driver vacancy to fill and they have confirmed they will reveal Stroll’s new team-mate early in 2018.

Russian Sergey Sirotkin is believed to be the front-runner to replace Massa thanks to his sponsors, but Robert Kubica is also in the running along with Daniil Kvyat and Paul di Resta.

Mercedes motorsport boss Wolff, though, says Williams should give an up and coming youngster a chance.

“If I were Williams today I would be bold and would put a George Russell or a Lando Norris in the car or [Charles] Leclerc… one of these really bright talented kids who have won championships in the past to develop the next superstar,” he told BBC Sport.

“But having said that there is a financial reality they live in and they have to find the right compromise.”

Norris unlikely to get any FP1 runs

Date published: December 13 2017

McLaren reserve driver Lando Norris is unlikely to get any track action during grand prix weekends next season, but Eric Boullier insists he will still have a “busy life”.

The 18-year-old has taken over the reserve duties from Jenson Button for the 2018 season, but he will still race for Carlin Racing in F2.

While teams lower down the grid often give their back-up drivers an FP1 run every now and then, McLaren have never been fans of the policy, but Boullier says that doesn’t mean Norris won’t have work to do.

“I hope that he will one day drive for McLaren – that’s why we took him on board,” Boullier told Formula1.com. “But first is F2 – a good sporting challenge for him.”

He added: “He will spend a lot of time in the simulator and he will have the opportunity to test. He was also pushing to get some FP1 outings, but I am not a fan of this. But he will still have a busy life!”

Norris looking to learn to from Alonso

Date published: December 11 2017

Lando Norris is hoping to make the most of his opportunity when he races alongside Fernando Alonso at the Daytona 24 Hours in January.

The McLaren test and development driver will be getting some first-hand experience with Alonso after being named in the United Autosports line-up for next month’s race.

“I’ll get to know a lot more about the work ethic of a Formula 1 driver,” Norris told the McLaren F1 website.

“Even though he’ll be driving a different car, he’ll still want to do as well as he can.

“He’ll particularly want to beat his team-mates, and he’ll work as hard as he can to improve the car. Wherever I can, I’ll try and take onboard everything he does.”

Not only does Norris want to learn from the two-time World Champion, but he is also eager to see how he matches up to him in terms of pace.

“Obviously, I’d like to do well,” he said. “But I think it’s a more of good opportunity to learn from Fernando. I definitely don’t want to let that opportunity go to waste.

“But, at the same time, I’d like to prove what I can do against him, especially in qualifying.

“Daytona is a team game, so I realise that we’ll be sharing the seat and working together. But I’d like to think there’ll be a bit of a competition about who can do a better job in practice and qualifying.

“Whoever does the best has done the best, but it’s still a great opportunity to learn not from him.”

Norris is also making the step up from F3 to F2 in 2018 and is looking forward to getting stuck into what he describes as a “tough challenge”.

He added: “The aim is to win [the title] but I think that’s going to be quite tough.”

“I think top three would be more realistic. But I said that this year [in F3] and ended up winning!

“The other day, I said if I wanted to prove I were as good as Charles Leclerc or better, then I needed to win.

“But F2 is a much tougher category than F3, with a lot more variables.

“It’ll be tougher to win as many races as in the past, but Leclerc has proved he can do it.

“It’s hard to say until I get to the first race. But I’m confident in what the [Carlin] team can do.”

Norris confirmed as McLaren’s third driver

Date published: November 6 2017

Lando Norris has been confirmed as McLaren’s official Formula 1 test and reserve driver for the 2018 season, replacing Jenson Button.

Lando has been a member of the McLaren Young Driver programme since the start of the year and impressed during the post-Hungarian GP test when he spent a day behind the wheel of the MCL32.

The 17-year-old paired his McLaren duties with a maiden campaign in the European Formula 3 Championship, winning the series.

And while it is not yet known where Norris will race next season, he will again be doing double duty as he takes on the role of McLaren’s official test and reserve driver.

“I’m so excited to be joining McLaren as test and reserve driver for 2018,” said the Brit. “The last 12 months have been an incredible journey for me – I’ve enjoyed every single minute – and this is just an amazing way to bring the year to an end.

“I’m really looking forward to helping the team, starting next week with the tyre test at Interlagos, and I will work harder than ever to learn and develop across the next year. I have two excellent teachers in Fernando and Stoffel, and I will do my best to help with the team’s efforts to get back to the front.

“I’m still working hard to finalise my own racing programme for 2018 – we’re close on a number of different fronts, but not quite there yet. I hope to be able to announce something shortly.”

Eric Boullier, McLaren Racing Director, added: “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.”