In Depth

F1: who is McLaren’s Lando Norris?

Motorsport’s up-and-coming young star is being hailed as the next Lewis Hamilton

McLaren shocked the Formula 1 world yesterday when it announced that British racing driver Lando Norris would be taking Stoffel Vandoorne’s seat next year.

The former GP2 (now called Formula 2) champion is currently in his second season with the team, but the Belgian has been consistently beaten by teammate Fernando Alonso in both qualifying and races – leading McLaren to promote Norris to a race seat for 2019.

Norris, who is 18, has been tipped for promotion since joining McLaren’s junior programme last year. He is often described as “the next Lewis Hamilton”, a driver who made an impressive F1 debut with the British team in 2007, the BBC reports.

With Alonso departing the series at the end of the year, McLaren’s driver line-up for the 2019 season will be Norris and 23-year-old Carlos Sainz, who currently drives for Renault.

Here’s everything you need to know about McLaren’s new driver:

Who is Lando Norris?

Lando Norris is an 18-year-old racing driver currently competing in the Formula 2 championship, which is seen as the final step on the motorsport ladder before entering F1. 

Born in Bristol, Norris is the son of investment banker Adam Norris. His father’s “multi-million pound fortune” has helped him compete in a sport that requires vast sums of money just to participate, the BBC says. 

The young Brit began competing in karts at the age of seven before moving up to the Ginetta Junior sports car championship in 2014 age 15. 

After finishing third in the Ginetta Junior standings, Norris competed in numerous single-seater categories and was signed as a McLaren development driver last year. 

He has since helped the racing team develop its F1 cars in several in-season testing sessions. He also recently piloted this year’s car during Free Practice 1 outings at the Belgian and Italian Grand Prix.

Aside from F1 and single seater racing, Norris shared a prototype car with Alonso at this year’s 24 Hours of Daytona. The duo finished 13th out of 50 competitors. 

How successful is he?

Very. The Brit has a glowing racing record with a number of championship wins in junior series to his name. 

Norris rose through the motorsport ranks “rapidly” prior to being signed as McLaren’s development and reserve driver last year, says Autocar. He claimed the MSA (Motor Sports Association) Formula 4 championship crown in 2015, for instance, and won the Formula Renault Eurocup series the following year. 

He also won the highly-competitive Formula 3 European Series championship last year, beating Michael Schumacher’s son Mick and British racing driver Callum Ilott. Previous championship winners include Force India’s Esteban Ocon and Williams driver Lance Stroll. 

Norris currently sits in second place in the F2 standings, behind Mercedes junior driver – and fellow Brit – George Russell.

Will he become McLaren’s next Lewis Hamilton?

That depends. While there are similarities between Lewis Hamilton and Lando Norris, given that both drivers started their F1 careers with McLaren, the reality behind Norris’s promotion is a little different, The Daily Telegraph claims.

Hamilton was given a car that was capable of fighting for the world championship in his first F1 season, for example, but McLaren’s current car isn’t fast enough to compete for race wins at the moment, let alone a world title, the newspaper says. 

While the odds are against a Hamilton-esque debut, Norris is determined to make his mark as one of F1’s greatest drivers.

Speaking to Auto Express, the British driver said: “I want to be remembered for being a very good driver, for being a bit different from the rest and [winning] a championship or two”.

“I want to be someone like Senna, Schumacher or Hamilton – drivers who’ve stood out from the rest.”

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