Lando Norris casts verdict on McLaren’s ‘big signing’ from Red Bull

Jamie Woodhouse
Rob Marshall, Chief Engineering Officer of Red Bull Racing. Suzuka, Japan. October 2022

Rob Marshall moves across to McLaren after 16 years at Red Bull.

Lando Norris spoke highly of McLaren’s incoming recruit Rob Marshall, and can say “with confidence” that the team is moving in the right direction.

Early in 2023 McLaren Racing CEO Zak Brown tasked team principal Andrea Stella with an internal review after the team made a disappointing start to the campaign, carrying on from a development programme in the season prior which had left Brown dissatisfied.

The end result was a major overhaul of the technical staff structure within the team, while James Key left the technical director role with immediate effect.

And now important new pieces of the puzzle are starting to fall into place, ex-Ferrari vehicle concept chief David Sanchez preparing to join McLaren at the start of next year, and while another important acquisition has now been made.

While Sanchez will take on the ‘technical director of car concept and performance’ role at McLaren, Rob Marshall will make the switch from Red Bull, their chief engineering officer calling time on a 17-year spell to become ‘technical director of engineering and design’. He will also arrive for the start of next year.

Norris then was asked ahead of the Spanish Grand Prix to identify what Marshall will bring to the team when he arrives at the McLaren Technology Centre.

“Just knowledge, expertise,” Norris began. “He’s been at Red Bull for many, many years. He’s seen a lot of success with the team. He’s been with some of the best minds within Formula 1 and he’s definitely part of that group.

“So yeah, brains and lap time I guess is the two big things. He’s a big signing for us as a team, so I think someone that a lot of people within McLaren will look up to and respect.

“But a good step for us as a team to keep this drive forward, continuing to add performance and expertise to the whole team in our drive to improve further up the grid.”

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Norris is committed to McLaren under a contract running until the end of 2025, that a long-term deal questioned by some considering McLaren’s struggles to make that breakthrough and become a leading team once more.

The Brit then was asked how much belief is being created for him by Brown’s reworking of the McLaren team, and it sounds like it is sure doing the trick.

“I would say a lot,” he affirmed, “even more now than in the past, and I guess I would never want to say that I have no belief and I never have said it, and probably won’t.

“But definitely since the last few changes there have been a lot of good things coming from that, both in terms of mood, atmosphere, but at the same time also performance and things to look forward to in the future.

“So not everything is purely direct in Formula 1, a lot of things take time, so I guess we have that part of it too.

“But definitely things have taken a step forward, so I can easily confirm that and I can say it with confidence. But yeah, until we see it, that’s the timely part.”

McLaren scored a double points finish last time out in Monaco, though could not avoid dropping to P6 in the Constructors’ Championship behind Alpine who made the podium courtesy of Esteban Ocon.