F1's McLaren put teenager Lando Norris on the grid

Sep 04, 2018, 09:00 IST | AFP

England's Norris, who had taken part in practice at the last two races in Belgium and Italy, was confirmed as McLaren's new driver just minutes after the team confirmed Vandoorne would be leaving

F1's McLaren put teenager Lando Norris on the grid
McLaren's Spanish driver Fernando Alonso competes during the qualifying session at the Autodromo Nazionale circuit in Monza on September 1, 2018 ahead of the Italian Formula One Grand Prix. Pic/AFP

British teenager Lando Norris has been given a dream contract to race in Formula 1 with McLaren from 2019, replacing the departing Belgian Stoffel Vandoorne. England's Norris, who had taken part in practice at the last two races in Belgium and Italy, was confirmed as McLaren's new driver just minutes after the team confirmed Vandoorne would be leaving.

He will be the second Briton on the 2019 grid after world champion Lewis Hamilton. "To be announced as a race driver for McLaren is a dream come true. Although I've been part of the team for a while now, this is a special moment, one I could only hope would become reality," Norris said. "I'd like to thank the whole team for this amazing opportunity and for believing in me.

"I'm also extremely grateful for the commitment McLaren has already shown in my development, allowing me to build my experience in a Formula 1 car in both testing and on Fridays during the past two race weekends.

"I'll also be working closely with McLaren at every opportunity to learn as much as possible from the drivers, engineers and mechanics to give myself the best preparation ahead of next year."

Norris will form a new-look McLaren team alongside Spaniard Carlos Sainz, who was signed last month to succeed Fernando Alonso following the star's decision to quit after 17 years in the sport. Lando has been part of the McLaren young driver programme since early 2017, when he officially joined the team as test and simulator driver.

Since then, Lando has regularly conducted race simulation work for the team and also participated in Formula 1 testing - in Abu Dhabi in 2017, and Spain and Hungary in 2018.

Last year, he contested the European Formula 3 Championship, which he won at the first attempt. Norris currently sits second in the Formula 2 championship, having won on his debut from pole position, with four races from two events remaining.

"We believe Lando is an exciting talent, full of potential, who we've very deliberately kept within the McLaren fold for exactly that reason," McLaren CEO Zak Brown said. "We already know he's fast, he learns quickly, and has a mature head on his young shoulders. We see much potential for our future together."

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