Lando Norris in ‘perfect place’ at McLaren after snubbing potential ‘race-winning’ seat

Thomas Maher
Lando Norris, McLaren, 2024 Miami Grand Prix.

Lando Norris wants to achieve all his success with McLaren.

Lando Norris says he is thrilled to be growing on the path to success with McLaren, rather than jumping into an established winning team.

After being courted by Red Bull over the past few years, Norris has chosen to stick with the team he made his F1 debut with – a decision that was finally rewarded with his first F1 race win at the Miami Grand Prix.

Lando Norris: I want to do it with McLaren

Norris, a product of the McLaren driver academy, was given the nod to step up to the Formula 1 team in 2019 and has since stuck with the Woking-based team through a series of contracts.

An unusually long four-year deal was signed off in early 2022, taking him to the end of 2025, but the possibility of a switch to Red Bull became apparent towards the end of last season as the reigning World Champions eyed a replacement for Sergio Perez.

With Norris earning the praise of Christian Horner, Helmut Marko, and Max Verstappen – with whom Norris has a good relationship – the British driver opted not to part ways with McLaren and, instead, put pen to paper on a new agreement to take him into 2026 and beyond.

The loyalty has been rewarded with an ever-strengthening team that now appears capable of challenging for race wins, if not quite championship-winning level yet – a far cry from the team Norris initially signed with more than five years ago.

That upward momentum is an inspiration for Norris, who said he can feel how both himself and McLaren have grown over the years together.

“We’re at the same level, we’ve been on the journey together, from where the team was five or six years ago, we made progress together,” he said.

“I’ve not come into a good team that’s been winning and I’ve been bad. We were both refreshed, both new, and worked things together. We’re in the whole thing together.

Having turned down the chance of a switch to the established winning team in Red Bull, Norris said he isn’t desperate to find that success when he feels he can achieve it with McLaren.

“I want to do it with McLaren,” he said.

“I’ve had opportunities to do it with other teams, and maybe places that I could be winning races now. I want to win races, but I’m not desperate to jump to other places. I don’t need to do that. I don’t want to do it. I want to enjoy the places I’m in, and the people I’m working with and I want to create that story with McLaren.”

Norris pointed to the example of Verstappen, who spent five years with Red Bull just snatching the occasional win from Mercedes before all the pieces finally came together to allow him to fight for championships from 2021 onward.

“Over the next five or 10 years, where can I achieve the most? I think it’s McLaren,” Norris said before alluding to how the upcoming chassis and power unit regulations changes for 2026 could play into McLaren’s, with their Mercedes power unit, hands.

“Just like when Max joined Red Bull, they weren’t winning everything then – but they’ve gone on to achieve everything five, six, seven years later. That’s what I believe I can do with McLaren.

“In one- or two years’ time, especially coming into 2026, I believe I’m in the perfect place and I couldn’t be happier with where I’m sitting.”

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With McLaren capitalising on a slightly off-colour race from Red Bull in Miami, helped out by the timing of a Safety Car intervention, the recent upgrades to the car suggest the gap to the front is now quite small.

McLaren CEO Zak Brown believes that, given the amount of investment in infrastructure and personnel, as well as the technical innovation going on back at Woking to create their upgrade packages, the pieces are now in place to create a world championship-level team.

“Yeah, I think we do,” he said on the Beyond the Grid podcast, when asked if he feels McLaren now has what it needs to go and compete at the very front.

“You’re always fine-tuning the machine, you’re always investing in more technologies, but there’s nothing that’s like on the to-do list that isn’t normal course of business.

“The to-do list was [we] needed a wind tunnel, needed some big stuff – the team we have in place, of course, you’re doing a little bit more hiring, you’re always looking to improve.

“But I’m very happy with our technical leadership team, our commercial, our finance, all the elements that go around. So yeah, I think we have what we need, we just need to continue to move forward as a team.”

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