‘Half a chance’ Lando Norris could make shock move to McLaren’s main rivals

Michelle Foster
Lando Norris and Max Verstappen shake hands after qualifying. Spain June 2023

McLaren driver Lando Norris and Max Verstappen shake hands after qualifying. Spain June 2023

Although Lando Norris may want to race for Red Bull and step into a “mega car”, Peter Windsor has warned him such a move would likely see him become Max Verstappen’s wingman.

Instead he’s proposed a switch to Alpine when the McLaren driver’s contract ends after the 2025 season.

Although Norris still has two full seasons to run on his current McLaren contract, the Woking team’s drab performances have pundits suggesting it’s only a matter of time before he packs his bags as even the Briton isn’t seeing a break in the clouds.

Dropping from third on the Spanish Grand Prix grid to 17th at the chequered flag, albeit not helped by a first lap incident with Lewis Hamilton, Norris declared after the race that the “expectation is almost to not finish in the points at the minute.”

With that in mind former Ferrari and Williams team manager Windsor was asked for his thoughts on Norris moving from McLaren to Red Bull in the years to come.

Norris would risk becoming ‘just a really good number two’

Should Norris head to Red Bull in 2026, he would find himself up against double World Champion Max Verstappen as the Dutchman has a contract through to 2028.

And given that Verstappen has seen off every team-mate he’s had in Formula 1, Windsor believes Norris would risk becoming “just a really good number two” driver.

He told his YouTube channel: “I’m sure Lando doesn’t see himself as a Max wingman. I’m sure at this stage of his career he thinks, ‘Oh, I’d love to drive a Red Bull’.

“He probably doesn’t think any more than that – just thinks how brilliant it would be to be in a mega car and to just enjoy being in a Red Bull.

“Well then the trouble would start because how’s he going to beat Max Verstappen and then what does Lando Norris become, does he become just a really good number two or what?

“I think that’s a possibility.”

But, he believes there’s a better chance the 23-year-old could head to Alpine when his McLaren contract expires despite the Enstone team being McLaren’s main rival in the battle for fifth place in this year’s standings.

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“I think there’s half a chance he might go to Alpine, is there not?” he continued.

“I think he’s on another year [ed’s note, two] so it’s a bit of a wait but Alpine are not going badly, there seems to be a lot of muscle behind that team.

“I’m only saying that because I’m trying to think of what places there might actually be for Lando. And wouldn’t that be an interesting swap.

“Alpine are looking pretty tight now, pretty good team, good looking team.”

Windsor highlights issues that could ‘handicap’ Norris’ career

But whether he stays at McLaren or moves to Alpine, or maybe even Red Bull, Windsor believes there is one problem with Norris’ driving that could hamper his progress as a driver.

According to the 71-year-old, Norris is costing himself lap time as his corners are too “long” with the Briton needing to take a different trajectory.

“The one thing that disappoints me about Lando is his corners are still quite long, and I think that’s going to be a handicap the more his career develops,” he stated.

“He’s a more rounded driver, more subtle driver than Carlos Sainz, but he’s not a lot different in the way he approaches corners and the way he actually drives through corners. It’s just that he does it a bit softer.

“I’ve been saying that for about two years now. I’m amazed that nobody at McLaren has mentioned that at this point and said ‘you know, you need to start a different trajectory there, Lando, and start working on different rotation points’.”