McLaren reveal ‘three approaches’ for Norris

It wasn’t just Toro Rosso who wanted a deal with Lando Norris with Zak Brown revealing three teams makes approaches of “varying degrees” for the Brit.

18-year-old Norris is already being billed one to watch for the future.

He claimed last year’s European Formula 3 title by a 53-point winning margin while this year he is leading the Formula 2 championship.

Such is the McLaren reserve driver’s growing reputation that already three rival teams, including Toro Rosso, have approached McLaren.

The Woking team, though, turned them all down as they want to hold onto the youngster.

“We’ve been approached by more than one team,” Brown told Autosport.

“We’ve had three approaches, of varying degrees.

“Some included this year, but we want him to focus on F2, and keep him at McLaren.

“If we felt it was good for his career, and good for McLaren, then we’d consider it on a case by case basis.

“But all of the approaches meant he would have gone away, and we’re not interested in that conversation. That’s non-negotiable.

“We’re not going to train him up for someone else, but I don’t think anyone else has any interest in training him up for us.”

Brown admits McLaren are not in an easy situation with their young drivers as they do not have affliated teams in which to blood them.

“We don’t have any sister teams. It’s not ideal,” he added.

“I think it shows that the FIA needs to look closely into how much influence teams have over other teams, because what they’re starting to do is to close down opportunities for people that are independent.”

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McLaren open to loaning out Norris

McLaren are open to loaning out Lando Norris but only in a short-term deal; that’s according to Zak Brown.

The McLaren reserve driver, who is leading the F2 championship heading into round five of the season, had been linked to Brendon Hartley’s Toro Rosso race seat.

McLaren, though, turned down the offer with reports stating it was because Toro Rosso’s senior team, Red Bull, wanted to include 2019.

But with McLaren uncertain about whether Fernando Alonso will remain in Formula 1 next season, the Woking team wants to Norris available should they need him.

However, if anyone wants him for the rest of this season and this season alone, Brown says they are open to a deal.

“If there was an opportunity for Lando to gain experience then that’s something we would consider,” said the McLaren chief.

“Lando is a McLaren driver. He has a bright future here, but we do not have an interest in letting Lando go anywhere on a long-term deal.”

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Norris remains ‘committed’ to McLaren

Lando Norris has said he will not be distracted from his current driving duties after Toro Rosso had an approach for him turned down.

The McLaren protege was the subject of an enquiry from the Red Bull junior team, who are actively looking to replace Brendon Hartley after a poor start to the season.

Toro Rosso wanted to take Norris on loan, but it was confirmed on Wednesday afternoon that McLaren had turned down the offer.

Norris, though, is unfazed by the sudden interest.

“I’m flattered by the stories but I’m focused on F2 and committed to McLaren,” the 18-year-old said.

“I leave this sort of thing to my management.”

Following the rejected approach, it has emerged that Toro Rosso wanted to secure Norris’ services beyond the end of this season as initially reported.

But, with neither Fernando Alonso or Stoffel Vandoorne committed to the team for 2019 yet, McLaren were unwilling to part ways with F2 World Championship leader as they may well want to draft him in themselves.

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McLaren reject Toro Rosso offer for Norris

McLaren have rejected an approach from Toro Rosso for Lando Norris to join them on loan for the rest of the season.

Brendon Hartley’s future in Formula 1 is in serious doubt, with the trigger-happy Dr Helmut Marko describing the New Zealander’s run of poor performances “not pleasing”.

A whole host of names, including Robert Kubica and ex-Sauber driver Pascal Wehrlein, have been linked with his seat, but Norris was the latest whisper to emerge from the paddock this week.

Norris, who is currently McLaren’s reserve driver and top of the F2 standings, is widely regarded as the next big thing in motor racing, but McLaren are not letting him go anywhere just yet.

Press Association’s Phil Duncan has confirmed via Twitter that Toro Rosso wanted Norris drafted in for the Austrian Grand Prix on July 1.

And McLaren’s rejection came with the following short statement:

“We’re not surprised that other teams approach our drivers. They clearly believe they’re as talented as we do.”

Toro Rosso have refused to comment, but it appears Hartley’s days in Formula 1 are very much numbered…

 

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Norris is the latest linked to Hartley’s seat

As rumours of Brendon Hartley’s pending axing continue, McLaren protege Lando Norris is the latest to be linked the Toro Rosso race-seat.

Off the pace of his team-mate Pierre Gasly, Formula 1’s rumourmill reckons it is only a matter of time before Hartley loses his Toro Rosso drive.

Those rumours were given some credence when Red Bull advisor Helmut Marko stated that “the situation around Brendon is not pleasing”, adding that they will “see what we can do in the future.”

And while Hartley says he is “surprised” by the rumours as he has a contract, the whispers continue.

According to Motorsport Week, McLaren driver Norris is the latest linked to Hartley’s seat.

The publication reports that Red Bull are actively “courting” the McLaren star with an eye to replacing Hartley.

Already former Sauber driver Pascal Wehrlein and Williams tester Robert Kubica have been linked to the New Zealander’s race-seat.

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Norris wants to give McLaren ‘a headache’

Lando Norris is hoping to give McLaren "a headache" with their 2019 driver selection by winning the F2 World Championship this season.

The Brit won the first race of the F2 season in Bahrain before finishing fourth in the second race.

It was enough to see him take an early lead in the Championship but, if he was to go on to win the F2 title this year then rules dictate that he would not be allowed to compete in the series again in 2019.

"Obviously a headache would be nice! It’s good for me, and at least they’re thinking about what position I could be in," Norris said via Crash.Net.

"I think they’re very happy with Fernando and Stoffel at the moment. It’s in a position now where there’s a lot of development going on, and having a slightly more experienced driver is a help.

"The rate of development would be slightly faster than if I jumped in, because I’d have to get used to F1 a bit. So I think the position they’re in now, they’re reasonably happy with."

While an F2 title win could force McLaren's hand, Norris is remaining realistic about his chances of stepping up to F1 as early as next season.

"I guess it’s the first year where if I did win F2, I wouldn’t be able to do another year, and every year I’ve taken a step up into the next category. It could be the first year where I don’t get this opportunity to step up," Norris added.

"But I don’t think that’s something I need to be thinking about for now. I just need to be focusing on the job I have to do, winning Formula 2, and worrying about that later in the season."

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McLaren’s 2019 driver line-up a ‘jackpot’

Date published: February 17 2018

The 2018 season isn’t even underway and already McLaren are being asked about next year’s line-up, which Zak Brown says is like “flicking the jackpot.”

This year McLaren will race Fernando Alonso, after the Spaniard re-signed in a multi-year contract, and Stoffel Vandoorne while Lando Norris is their official reserve driver.

Norris is keen to prove to McLaren this season that he deserves a race-seat, however, acknowledges that his path may be determined by Alonso and what he wants to do in 2019.

Either way, Brown reckons it is a “luxury situation” for McLaren to be in.

“There are a variety of different scenarios and it is like flicking the jackpot – it could be this, or this or that,” Crash.net quotes Brown as having said.

“We know what the scenarios are but we haven’t set any expectations yet because you would be predicting too early what you think might happen.

“We’re in a great position where we have three great drivers and two seats which is a luxury situation to be in so we will see how things go before figuring out what the future looks like.”

Last season Alonso won McLaren’s intra-team battle by 17 points to 13.

It was, however, in qualifying where he was most dominant as he put his MCL32 ahead of Vandoorne on 16 Saturdays.

Brown, though, reckons Vandoorne did well taking on the challenge that of Alonso’s ‘superstar’ status.

“They get equal treatment. Alonso gets a lot more of the publicity that doesn’t translate into any different effort in the garage from the engineers.

“Sometimes when you’ve got one part it will go to your more experienced driver. I don’t think that is any different to any other team. They have equal chance.

“I try to move around from garage to garage because I am sensitive to Fernando being such a superstar that you want Stoffel to know he’s got every bit as much support, which he does, but he handles it really well as he is very mature and never shows any signs or comments of that.

“I think he’s in a good place and is very headstrong.”