Lando Norris commits to McLaren until the end of 2023
McLaren Racing have announced a new long-term contract for British driver, Lando Norris, keeping him at the team until the end of 2023. Matthew Henderson reports.
After two promising seasons in Formula 1 and an impressive start to his third, Lando Norris has committed his future in the sport to McLaren until the end of 2023 at least.
The new contract signals the team’s faith in Norris and shows that he is a crucial component in their return to the front of the grid.
The decision to announce such a long extension so early in the season is a smart one. It tells McLaren’s rivals that Norris is here to stay and any interested parties should look elsewhere for a future driver.
McLaren has been resurgent in the last couple of seasons, finishing 3rd in the Constructor’s Championship in 2020. For 2021, Norris sits alongside proven race winner and former Red Bull driver, Daniel Ricciardo. The combination of the two drivers is something the team from Surrey very much want to protect, as they look set for another strong season in F1.
While both drivers have had some good races thus far, Ricciardo has struggled to adjust to the MCL35M. On the other hand, Norris has stepped up significantly, currently sitting in 3rd in the Driver’s Championship. After Carlos Sainz’s departure to Ferrari, and with Norris’ 2021 performances, it’s become clear that the Brit has progressed to becoming the number one driver at McLaren.
His best race this season must be the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix in Imola, Italy. After a disappointing qualifying, where he had a lap time good enough for 3rd on the grid deleted due to track limits, Norris finished 3rd overall. He had been running in second, but the Mercedes of Lewis Hamilton proved to be too quick for the young Brit. Norris held on much longer than expected though, proving that he has the nerve to fight at the top, all the while making Lewis Hamilton and his W12 work hard for the position.
Staying at McLaren is not just beneficial for the team, but it also very much benefits Norris as he continues to improve and build as a driver. Having that stability is exactly what Norris needs and a move at this point could undo a lot of his progress. Signing the contract early will mean that both the team and Norris know that either one will not be distracted by the chaos of the F1 driver market, allowing them to make the most this year and prepare for the new regulations in 2022. Norris commented: “My goal is to win races and become Formula 1 World Champion and I want to do that with this team”.
His comments demonstrate his belief in his team as well as his commitment to making those dreams of a world title a reality.
Before he signed for the team, and even at times during his first season, many would have doubted that a race win was even possible for the team, considering McLaren finished 9th in the constructors championship in 2017.
Norris has a lot more to show for himself and this new contract will allow him and his team to show exactly what they can do.