Lando Norris has cooled suggestions that he has his eyes on a future Mercedes drive, confirming he is happy where he is at McLaren.
Norris is a homegrown star for the McLaren team, having graduated through their academy to take his place on the Formula 1 grid for the first time back in 2019.
And from there the British racer has gone from strength to strength, taking to the podium six times, as well as scoring his first pole position back at the 2021 Russian Grand Prix.
But alas, while Norris has long been talked about as a young driver with World Champion potential, McLaren are yet to provide him with a challenger that could allow him to make such dreams a reality.
And with McLaren seemingly at a bit of a standstill with their efforts to return to the front of the F1 grid, it has seen Norris linked with three of F1’s big hitters in Red Bull, Mercedes and Ferrari.
Red Bull had previously taken a look at Norris, while recently Mercedes are the prospective next destination most frequently mentioned for Norris.
But, Norris said he has not put thought towards leaving the team, affirming that he is still perfectly happy with life as a McLaren driver.
Asked by Channel 4 if he has seen all the press chatter that he is eyeing up a Mercedes seat, Norris replied: “Am I? Interesting.
“No, I’m here, I’m happy where I am.”
McLaren seem confident of keeping Lando Norris
In the coming years at least, the McLaren team appear pretty certain that Norris’ future does not lay with any other team but them.
The Brit made a long-term commitment to McLaren ahead of the 2022 campaign, signing a new contract which commits him until the end of 2025, and McLaren Racing CEO Zak Brown has claimed that Norris has “zero exit clauses” in this contract.
It would make little sense then for Norris to be looking elsewhere as it stands, or if he is, then potentially upsetting McLaren by confirming it in the press would bring little benefit if team and driver still have another two-and-a-half years together at least.
That being said, there are dominos which could fall to open places up at Red Bull, Mercedes and Ferrari in the coming years, at which point it could be difficult for McLaren to keep Norris onboard if any of them came in with a hefty compensation package to buy him out of his contract.
Lewis Hamilton’s Mercedes deal comes to an end after the 2023 campaign, and while he is expected to sign fresh terms, if he does not, that instantly is a golden opportunity for the likes of Norris.
If it was not Norris filling that vacancy, then maybe it could result in one at Ferrari? Charles Leclerc has batted away rumours that he would look to swap Ferrari for Mercedes when Hamilton does ultimately retire, though a highly frustrating start to his and Ferrari’s 2023 season could potentially change his mind.
And as for Red Bull, Sergio Perez’s deal is up after 2024, and with Norris and Max Verstappen on good terms, it could allow Formula 1’s dominant force to become even more daunting with a Verstappen-Norris pairing.
The key then for McLaren is to simply come good on their target of victory and title challenges again as of 2024/25, which would show Norris that he was right to put his faith in the team.