The ‘one man’ who former driver believes should use his ‘get-out clause’ to partner Max Verstappen

Michelle Foster
Max Verstappen speaking with Lando Norris after qualifying. Britain July 2023

Max Verstappen speaking with Lando Norris after qualifying. Britain July 2023

Former F1 driver Johnny Herbert believes if there’s a “get-out clause” in Lando Norris’ contract, he needs to use it to get into the second Red Bull seat alongside Max Verstappen.

Although Red Bull are adamant Sergio Perez will continue as Verstappen’s team-mate into 2024, the final year on his two-year contract, it seems – at least amongst former drivers and pundits – the Mexican driver’s days are numbered.

Failing to make it into Q3 in the last five races and only once putting his RB19, the fastest car on the grid, onto the podium in that time, the list of those said to be in line to replace Perez grows on a weekly, sometimes daily, basis.

Johnny Herbert puts forward Lando Norris as Max Verstappen’s next team-mate

The driver is already said to be under pressure from Daniel Ricciardo with the returning AlphaTauri driver making no secret about wanting Perez’s seat come 2025.

But, as Perez pointed out, “half of the grid” wants his Red Bull seat given the phenomenal run that has seen them win every one of this year’s 10 races to date.

But who realistically has a chance? Former F1 driver Herbert believes that driver is McLaren’s Lando Norris.

Speaking to Metro Sport, Herbert said: “If I was choosing there is only one man, and he is in an orange car at the minute. That is Lando.

“He has a long-term contract and I don’t know what that says or the details of it. But windows of opportunity come up rarely in this sport. When they do you have got to be the man on the doorstep and when that door opens you walk right through.

“You don’t want to be on the doorstep, the door opens and you say, “Hang on I’ve just got to check a couple of things”. If there is a get-out clause in some shape or form, that would be the negotiation I would start playing with. Lando has impressed a lot of people and he has got a good reputation.

“Suddenly the McLarens do well at Silverstone and they are back on the tip of people’s tongues. I hope Lando gets that chance. His contract is a big key to his future if the opportunity were to come at Red Bull.

“There is another question. Would you really want to risk going up against Max Verstappen?

“I remember years ago Gerhard Berger said to me when I did my time with Michael Schumacher that he would never have gone up against Michael. So there are certain drivers, who from a career perspective wouldn’t countenance it.”

McLaren, though, have made it known several times that Norris won’t be leaving early with the team adamant there is no get-out clause in his contract. recommends

F1 records: Who are the youngest drivers ever to race in Formula 1?

The unfortunate holders of the most unwanted records in Formula 1

This weekend’s Hungarian Grand Prix sees Red Bull looking to break McLaren’s 1988 record of 11 wins in a row, Red Bull’s streak having began at last season’s Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.

However, last time out at the British Grand Prix McLaren made signficant gains to be P2 while Williams also put in an improved performance.

But both teams, and the rest of the field it must be said, are still lagging well behind Red Bull’s RB19.

“I think at the front end you’re looking at the Red Bull,” Herbert acknowledged. “Behind it has been up and down like a yoyo as to who comes out on top.

“At the moment I’d probably throw it towards McLaren. Their performances in Canada and at Silverstone, where there are a lot of long straights as well as some technically tricky slow speed corners, were good.

“You have got a lot of those in Hungary. It is a quite flowing circuit with lefts and rights.

“As a surprise I will throw in is Alex Albon, who I’ve always been impressed by and Williams, because they have a slippery car which will benefit them.

“When I saw him after Silverstone he said the one thing you can about his car is you can throw it around and it is fun to drive. That is perfect for Hungary. The car is quite forgiving, he is getting better and more confident and Williams seem to be improving.”

Read next: Explained: How the budget cap rules are enforced by the FIA