Formula 1: Lando Norris to stay at McLaren until 2025


lando norris
Norris scored his first pole position at last season’s Russian Grand Prix

Lando Norris has signed a new contract to stay at McLaren until the end of 2025.

The 22-year-old, one of the stars of last season, said the move was “a very strong message” about his faith in McLaren’s potential.

Norris said: “We know it is not going to be quick – there are things we need to improve on to guarantee we can fight for race wins and championships.

“But I know that’s in the pipeline and it’s what I’m confident of achieving.”

Team principal Andreas Seidl said there were “no get-out clauses” in the contract, adding: “It is an important message from our side that we can get there in these next four years.”

Norris said he had made the decision despite approaches from other teams.

All the leading drivers in the top outfits have contracts that run out in the next two or three years, meaning opportunities could have arisen for Norris elsewhere.

At Mercedes, Lewis Hamilton has a contract to the end of 2023, the same time Max Verstappen’s current deal with Red Bull concludes.

At Ferrari, Charles Leclerc is contracted until 2024, while Carlos Sainz’s deal expires this year, although the team have talked about extending it.

“There were little chats here and there but that’s all,” Norris said. “Nothing went far.”

He said when other teams approached him, he would tell chief executive officer Zak Brown and team principal Andreas Seidl, and the negotiations over a new deal rose from that.

“There will be opportunities to maybe go to Red Bull or Mercedes and who knows if I would have had those opportunities,” Norris said.

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“But the fact it’s known I would have had those opportunities, but have still chosen to stay with McLaren is a good thing in all this.”

Norris admitted his commitment to McLaren had secured him a pay rise, but said: “If you have a good season, naturally it will rise a little bit, especially if those opportunities from other teams could arise.

“The money side of it is something that always helps, but that is not the biggest thing for me. My happiness comes above all and that is the most important thing.”

He said that he believed signing such a long-term contract for McLaren was “more for the solidarity for me and the team.

“I do see it as a performance and motivation benefit for the mechanics and engineers and for everyone at McLaren.

“If I want to find every bit of performance that is included in something like this [I have] to give the whole team the confidence that I’m here to stay and I want to achieve great things with them.”

McLaren have been on a recovery program since slumping towards the tail of the field in 2018, and the major changes in restructure and personnel have seen them finish fourth twice and third once in the last three years.

Last season, they won their first race since 2012, when Daniel Ricciardo led Norris across the line to a one-two at the Italian Grand Prix.

And they held third place in the championship for much of the season before being overhauled by Ferrari in the final few races.

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Norris split the Ferrari drivers in the championship, finishing sixth.

McLaren hope the new technical rules aimed at closing up the field will help them make further progress this year, and believe that continued developments in the pipeline, including infrastructure improvements such as a new wind tunnel, will only enhance their competitiveness.

Seidl said: “Our ambition is to win titles but we still have a few building blocks and ambitious targets before we can get there.

“But to achieve those targets you need the best drivers, the best guys in the paddock. The sport is complex and consistency is important. Especially if you have the right guys.

“We have a strong belief in the talent of Lando and we believe he will be a key element in achieving these targets we have, but at the same time it is a great sign for everyone in the team.”


www.bbc.com

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George Holan

George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.

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