Lando Norris reacts to Max Verstappen ‘fear’ claims as Mercedes told to be ‘angry’ – F1 news round-up

Henry Valantine
Lando Norris, F1 news

Lando Norris has responded to questions about Red Bull after signing a new McLaren deal.

Saturday’s F1 news sees Lando Norris respond following his contract extension on Friday, and plenty more from the F1 paddock.

Away from McLaren, Ferrari have announced when their drivers will take to the track for the first time this year along with their reserve and development roles.

Alongside that, two-time World Champion Mika Hakkinen has had some words of advice for Mercedes as they look to get back to winning ways, all in Saturday’s F1 news headlines.

Lando Norris denies Max Verstappen partnership fear after penning McLaren deal

Having signed a multi-year extension beyond 2025 with McLaren, Lando Norris has committed his long-term future to his current team and ruled out the possibility of being courted by Red Bull, with Helmut Marko a known admirer of the Briton.

While the prospect of a Norris-Max Verstappen partnership would be a tantalising one for the neutrals, Norris flatly denied the notion that he would be afraid of facing the triple World Champion in the same car, but admitted it’s not the “smart move” at this moment in time.

“I don’t think it’s a question of: are you scared or not scared? I don’t think I’d ever be scared of going up against anyone,” Norris told Sky Sports.

“But even if you enter a team, are you in a position to challenge someone straight away? And are you comfortable to do that?

“And I think it’s a ‘no’ – for any driver. It takes time to adapt and takes time to get into place.

“And if you want to go against the best driver in the world, it’s not the best thing to do. It’s not a smart move to do.”

Read more: Lando Norris hits back at Max Verstappen ‘fear’ accusations over Red Bull rumours

Mika Hakkinen encourages ‘at a crossroads’ Mercedes to be ‘angry’ in 2024

Double World Champion Mika Hakkinen believes Mercedes need to get “angry” in 2024 to rediscover their winning ways, having gone through their first winless season since 2011 last time around.

Even though the Silver Arrows finished second in the Constructors’ standings and took plenty of podiums, these are not the standards to which they have become accustomed in the past decade.

Hakkinen told BILD: “Mercedes is at a crossroads.

“There is a bigger question mark over the team than there has been for a long time. After a decade of success, the past two seasons have left their mark on the management and staff. And that’s a good thing!

“You have to be angry now. You have to develop that unconditional will to win again. The team has to become a team again, develop this blind understanding. That is currently missing.”

Read more: Mercedes told to be ‘angry’ with team ‘at a crossroads’ in 2024 season

Adrian Newey’s future questioned through budget cap – report

A report from Auto Motor und Sport in Germany claims Adrian Newey may be moved onto the Red Bull RB17 hypercar project full-time in the medium-term future, so his salary is off the books for the F1 budget cap.

The spending ceiling does not include each team’s drivers and three highest earners, and the report claims a move for Newey could “free up” one of the exemptions for another high-paid individual within the team.

With the FIA also believed to be looking at the ground effect RB17 and how it may potentially help Red Bull’s F1 efforts, Helmut Marko vehemently denied there is any correlation involved.

He said: “Our opponents are saying that the underbody of the RB17 provides insights for the Formula 1 car, which is obviously complete nonsense.”

Read more: Adrian Newey’s Red Bull future questioned in F1 budget cap analysis

Ferrari confirm pre-season plans and Arthur Leclerc, Oliver Bearman futures

Ferrari announced on Saturday that British teenager Oliver Bearman will be an official F1 reserve driver in 2024, with Arthur Leclerc in the role of development driver.

Alongside that, they confirmed their pre-season running plans at Barcelona, with the Scuderia taking part in Pirelli tyre testing in the 2023 SF-23 with Charles Leclerc and Carlos Sainz, as well as Bearman and Arthur Leclerc getting their own chances to run in Ferrari machinery next week.

Read more: Ferrari confirm Arthur Leclerc future following academy departure

Madrid Grand Prix: Local official raises concern with circuit layout

The Madrid layout of the new Spanish Grand Prix from 2026 will take place on a ‘hybrid’ circuit of street and non-street sections, but the vice president of the Royal Spanish Automobile Federation worries the current plans put fans “dangerously close” to the action.

A huge banked corner in the Valdebebas area of the city is of particular concern to Joaquín Verdegay, who explained to Soy Motor: “All the stands on the left at the exit of the bank seem very dangerously close to me, because if anything happens, the centrifugal force makes the remains of the car jump to the left and look what we have on the left.”

Read more: ‘Dangerous’ Madrid GP plans warning raised by Spanish chief