McLaren was worried that Lando Norris might be poached to drive for Toro Rosso if he did not get an F1 race seat at the Woking outfit for next season.
The British youngster will start his rookie season next year partnering with Carlos Sainz Jr.
Toro Rosso approached the F1 racer earlier this year to sign him up for their race seat next year. But McLaren was unwilling to give him up and Red Bull did not want to bring in an outside driver on loan.
Speaking of their choices, the team’s CEO Zak Brown said: “We knew he would’ve been snapped up by another team.
“But we were ultimately always on a kind of ‘around the summer break’ timeline, so we weren’t pressured by that, or didn’t make any decision driven by that.
“We were fully aware that if he wasn’t going to drive for us next year, he’d be driving for someone else.”
When asked if Norris would have driven for Toro Rosso, Brown said: “I assume it would be Toro Rosso.
“I think based on the phone calls I got, more than one team was interested in him.”
Norris is the latest McLaren junior who will be entering F1. The outfit’s earlier junior single-seater champions Kevin Magnussen and Stoffel Vandoorne have not had any success at the Woking outfit.
Things will not go the same with Norris, Brown assured and said he has brought in sporting director Gil de Ferran for that reason.
“He will take some time to settle in,” said Brown. “He is going to be on tracks that he hasn’t seen before like Australia, he will have some shunts, so we just need to give him the space.
“I think historically we have not been great with the young drivers because of the environment that we are in.
“So we are looking for Gil to make sure we learn from some of the mistakes we have made in the past.”
Norris signed up with the Woking outfit ever since he won the 2016 McLaren Autosport BRDC Award.
Next year, he joined the junior programme and even tested the cars for the team as a part of his award. The British driver was named the team’s reserve driver for 2018 and has driven in the free practice runs in a couple of tracks this year.
“When you take the decision there are a variety of boxes that you want that driver to tick,” said Brown.
“First and foremost, is speed, racecraft, likeability. [Being] commercially exciting is certainly in there.
“Ideally you want to get someone who can tick all the boxes and Lando does.
“I think what we need to do is manage him carefully, so we don’t get ahead of ourselves with comparisons to other drivers.
“We have to be very careful that we don’t set the bar of expectations so high that FP1 in Australia we have all come to conclusions whether he is the next superstar or not.”
1 comment on “The fear that drove Norris promotion”
Interesting read Lando Norris. Next year is going to be awesome! We’re just praying they’ve got the car for him to compete.