Why McLaren are not worried about losing Lando Norris to an F1 rival

Jamie Woodhouse
Lando Norris on the grid. Montreal June 2022.

McLaren driver Lando Norris listens to an engineer before the race. Canada June 2022.

McLaren Racing CEO Zak Brown is confident the team will give Lando Norris the winning car to stop him looking elsewhere.

Since bursting onto the Formula 1 scene in 2019, Norris has raced with only McLaren and now prepares for a fifth season in the sport come 2023.

But having established himself as one of Formula 1’s most talented drivers, despite McLaren having never provided him with a car capable of fighting for regular wins, it poses the question of how long will Norris wait?

Well, the Brit has said that by 2024 McLaren must be fighting at the front, but it is known that Red Bull have and likely continue to keep an eye on Norris’ availability.

But, this does not make Brown nervous, as he believes the winning car which Norris needs is in his future with McLaren.

Asked if he fears losing Norris, Brown, as per Motorsport.com, said: “No, because I’m convinced we’re going to give him a winning car.

“We have a long-term contract with him. I think he feels very comfortable within the team.

“Other than obviously the pressure we put on ourselves, because we don’t want to just give him a winning car, we want to give us a winning car. So, I think we’ve got a runway to get there.

“He knows the journey we’re on. He has bought into the journey that we’re on, and I think it’d be early to be worried about it.”

Brown would praise Norris for not only his speed, but also how rare his mistakes are.

He also used the likes of Jan Magnussen and Jos Verstappen as examples of drivers who could not find the desired success when they made the breakthrough into Formula 1, but Norris has had no such issues.

“Every step along the way, he gave you a reason to believe the next step he was going to be great,” said Brown of Norris.

“But we’ve seen drivers that have been great along the way and then, when they get to the top, you don’t know if it was them or the situation: Jan Magnussen right? He was mega in everything and then didn’t quite work in F1. Jos Verstappen was often mega in everything, it didn’t quite work in F1.

“Lando was mega in everything. And it has worked in F1. In fact, what I think I’m happiest to see is not just pure pace, but how few mistakes he makes, and how strong his racecraft is.

“Looking at Lando, year one. He had the pace, but probably didn’t have his elbows out enough. And now he’s fair, but he’s a tough character when you are racing.”

McLaren need to give Lando Norris reason to believe

Norris may be giving McLaren until 2024 to show that they can be a leading force in Formula 1 again, but doubts will likely creep in if clear progress is not displayed in 2023.

Back at the 2021 Russian GP, Norris experienced fighting for victory in Formula 1 for the first time, but the campaign which followed was a step backwards for the Woking outfit. Norris featured on the podium four times in 2021, but only once in 2022.

Instead it was Alpine who positioned themselves as the team in prime position to escape the midfield and challenge the front three of Red Bull, Ferrari and Mercedes, McLaren largely kept in the mix thanks to Norris’ performances and reliability woes for Alpine.

Norris may be contracted until the end of 2025, but we saw in 2022 that Formula 1 contracts are not always bulletproof. So, McLaren do need to be careful when it comes to keeping Norris’ faith.

Read next: George Russell on the Norris and Albon success that was ‘difficult to digest’