Why Norris didn’t “even have a proper look at another team” besides McLaren

Formula 1

Posted on

| Written by

Lando Norris says talks with rival teams did not reach a serious stage before he decided to commit to McLaren for the long term.

McLaren announced yesterday it had agreed a new multi-year deal with Norris, who was already signed to the team until the end of next year.

Although Norris is yet to win a grand prix since making his debut for the team in 2019, he said he is “convinced” they are on course to compete for world championships.

“As a team, we have everything we need in order to achieve that goal,” said Norris. “As far as the team’s goal and also just the personal goal that I’ve always had.”

Max Verstappen, Lando Norris, Interlagos, 2023
McLaren rebounded spectacularly from a poor start last year
Following an off-season change of leadership which saw Andrea Stella installed as team principal, McLaren made a poor start to 2023. But they rebounded spectacularly, producing a series of updates to their car which transformed it into the strongest threat to dominant champions Red Bull at several rounds.

However Norris said that was only part of the reason why he decided to extend his stay at the team. “I don’t think it’s just last year and how we turned things around,” he said. “I don’t think that’s the only thing that I would say has convinced me more.

“It’s just everything that goes on day-to-day, the people that are here, the work ethic, the mentality, the approach to everything.”

Advert | Become a RaceFans supporter and go ad-free

Rumours abounded last year that Norris was seeking a move to Red Bull, potentially in place of the underperforming Sergio Perez. However he denied having any serious talks with rival teams.

Lando Norris, McLaren, Albert Park, 2019
Norris goes into his sixth season at McLaren this year
“You know what other teams are doing and how they’re looking and how they’re feeling and what their potentials are at the same time with what drivers they’ve got, what people they’ve got, and so on,” he said. “And really nothing from any other side was convincing enough to everyone to make me even have a proper look at another team.

“The atmosphere, the mentality, the camaraderie I think we have here has built up a lot over the years. And I also just very much enjoyed being part of all of that.”

McLaren backed Norris in the latter stages of his junior career before bringing him into F1. He said he wants to “be part of this story of turning things around and going from the beginning of my career and struggling and going through those ups and downs and sticking with the team.”

However he stresses a major part of his desire to stay at McLaren is his enthusiasm for the team. “I also enjoy it,” he said, “that’s also a big factor for me. As much as I do want to just be in a team that’s the quickest one, there’s also that element of I’m also here because I love racing and I love to have fun and enjoy all of that.

“Really, for me, that’s my number one thing at the end of the day. I’m doing what I love and I want to be with a team that I love and I enjoy every moment with and that’s McLaren.

Advert | Become a RaceFans supporter and go ad-free

“So I think when you factor all these things together, when you factor the improvements that we’ve made and just walking around the factory over the last few days and seeing how not just excited, but just how motivated and how passionate everyone is, it’s definitely, a new level from where we’ve been.

“Work ethic and people are what needs to convince me as well as, of course, results. But the people that we have and the family feeling I think that we all have and the push everyone’s doing is also the next convincing thing that I need. So when I put those three things together, along with me just wanting to be part of the family and enjoying my life, that I live, it made it quite an easy decision.”

Norris said his discussions with other teams never got beyond a preliminary stage. “Everyone speaks to everyone,” he said. “Every driver speaks to every team and it’s not in terms of like, everyone just sorting out contracts. It’s just what can one team offer you and what can another team offer you and things like that.

“But it’s the same with every driver. Everyone speaks to every team on what could we potentially do one day? But nothing ever progressed on more than that, basically.”

After talks with Stella and McLaren Racing CEO Zak Brown, Norris decided it would be in his best interests and the team’s to agree a new deal and put an end to the rumours.

“Of course as soon as you do start to get some of these questions and you see a lot of it, then you have talks internally with Andrea and with Zak, with whoever it is. And then you start talking about your own stuff and you do want to put some of these rumours to bed.

“Because it’s not a good question that the team keeps seeing, day in, day out. So that’s why we’ve come to a decision so early on and so quickly. So, hopefully that does put all of those questions to bed nicely.”

Advert | Become a RaceFans supporter and go ad-free

Formula 1

Browse all Formula 1 articles

Author information

Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

Got a potential story, tip or enquiry? Find out more about RaceFans and contact us here.

23 comments on “Why Norris didn’t “even have a proper look at another team” besides McLaren”

  1. Coventry Climax
    27th January 2024, 9:52

    I’m of mixed feelings here. Over the past, there’s quite a few drivers I would have liked staying longer at certain teams, bringing them stability and likely a bit more progress. But obviously, going to the team that seems to be the most promising is all part of the F1 game the drivers are playing. Or were playing: there seems to be a tendency to go for longer and longer contracts between drivers and teams. I just hope, to say things in Norris’ words, it’s not yet another aspect of F1’s competition that’s being put to bed.

  2. I think it’s a bad move by Norris. Keeps resigning with a team that has delivered him zero wins.

    1. Things can change in the long-term, though.

    2. Then again, he also failed to deliver them wins in Russia 2021, Italy 2021, and Singapore 2023 – and you might even include England and Brazil 2023 in that list, although those are a bit more of a stretch given that Verstappen no doubt had performance in hand.

      1. Qatar 2023 was the best chance of 2023. Tire advantage nullified and Lando dropped the ball.

        Speed is not the issue with him, it is the intangibles.

      2. MichaelN, in the case of the 2021 Italian GP, I don’t think you can really say that Norris failed to deliver a win for the team when the team instructed their drivers not to fight for position.

      3. Singapore? What are you smoking? Sainz was clearly quicker, he was backing off to give him tow for god’s sake haha

        1. Yes, I don’t think it’s right to include singapore, nor russia, as norris performed excellently on all conditions, the problem was mclaren’s forecast was inaccurate, they expected the rain to ease down, instead there was torrential rain for a brief moment, which made driving on slicks impossible.

          1. That may well be, but the story of epic race wins in the wet is one of drivers reading the situation and calling the shots. Something Norris either couldn’t or didn’t do. It’s no big deal; he obviously took the risk in a rare opportunity to win, but he did bungle it.

        2. So at which point did Norris pressure Sainz? Sainz may claim he expertly managed the gap, but managing a 1 second gap is not that straight forward. It’s very small, and it only takes one little mistake for that to turn into an overtaking opportunity. Something that never happened.

          1. MichaelN, you seem to be contradicting yourself there – on the one hand, you are dismissing the idea that Norris was pressuring Sainz, but then follow that up by commenting about how difficult it is to then manage a gap of that size and indicate that Norris was pressuring Sainz.

  3. I really wonder whether Mclaren’s rise in fortune last season was down to them or was it a matter of both Mercedes and Ferrari underperforming massively.

    I’m hoping they’ll remain competitive but I just can’t see them returning to the top steps of the podium against the other big three any time soon.

    Seems like young Lando has already given up on a WDC and will just see his time out being no doubt well paid at Mclaren.

    1. Seems like young Lando has already given up on a WDC

      Whaaaat? No waaay.
      I don’t get this take at all. I think the family stuff and how motivated everyone is and enjoying it all is morale building for the team.

      It’s like when you choose the option in a video game career mode and you get +(team morale) but -(fan reaction).

      Sure he could say I’m the best and do whatever it takes to win and only care about results, but it’s a different message. Doesn’t mean it’s not ultimately the case.

    2. I really wonder whether Mclaren’s rise in fortune last season was down to them or was it a matter of both Mercedes and Ferrari underperforming massively.

      I don’t doubt the new car they belatedly brought to the 2023 season was a solid one; and they had the measure of Aston Martin by mid-season and could challenge the Ferrari and Mercedes often enough.

      But Ferrari was running a compromised concept (thanks to Mercedes cozy relationship with the FIA in 2022) which was further hampered by being the ‘orphaned’ car of a dumped team boss who had a big hand in its design. Mercedes seems to have been lured into some renewed confidence by their improved form in late 2022 and stuck with a flawed concept in hopes of salvaging the mythic ‘sim numbers’ out in the real world.

      I expect both to come back (much) stronger in 2024, and if that happens it’ll be interesting to see where McLaren ends up being in the pecking order. They might well fall back to the bottom of the points, scrapping with Aston Martin and Alpine for leftovers.

      But they might jump forward – who knows. If they do, Norris choice will seem vindicated. But for now I’m leaning towards it being the best option for him. The only seat higher up the grid that is in any doubt is that of Pérez.

  4. I also hope its not put to bed. I’m hopeful though. This domination apathy can’t last forever, right? If it does I think F1 will have bigger problems on its hands.

    1. @Coventry Climax

  5. I can see why he’s stayed with McLaren. Only an idiot would sign up to Red Bull with Max there … RB would never let anyone else win on a long term basis. Yes he’d almost certainly win the odd race but he’d more often than not be the runner up to Max. Lando is a serious talent and isn’t going to want to sign to a team and be number 2, even Red Bull. He can be a team leader at McLaren.
    With McLaren he has a serious chance. McLaren seem to have made a better job at the new rules than Mercedes and Ferrari – they understand it better and that’s obvious by their updates WORKING. Maybe this year the McLaren will be regularly in with a shout of winning races? And I’m happy he’s staying with McLaren because I love Lando’s helmet design and they lose their individuality in a Red Bull with the bull taking up half the helmet.

  6. There’s some bonkers perceptions about Norris flying about on the internet nowadays. This whole “no-wins” crap is such a blinkered view: Max has completely dominated in 2023, and the McLaren been only very good at certain circuits until this year. He’s maximises regularly and won swathes of podiums. He isn’t settling here, he obviously thinks McLaren is up to it. They have the momentum and he must like what he’s seeing for next year. He’s got a better chance at winning the WDC at McLaren than any other team this year in my opinion.

    1. I’m not sure if mclaren gives a better title win chance than mercedes, ofc they can still get the car wrong, but mclaren and ferrari used to be the top teams, until red bull and merc got the hang of it, and after that they were just overall the best teams: even if brawn gp won in 2009 red bull had the best car already by the 2nd half, then they had overall the best car, sometimes dominant, in 2010-2013, then merc had the best car, sometimes dominant in 2014-2021 (2021 I consider marginal towards merc, 2018 I consider even with ferrari) and now again red bull with the clear best car in 2022-2023, so in order to believe mclaren can really give a championship challenge, I would have to see them do it first, otherwise to me the only real competitors are those 2 teams.

    2. And while ferrari can sometimes bring a really good car (2017, 2018, 2022), they often get outdeveloped during the season (except 2018) and their strategies are too mediocre to really fight, hopefully that improves with vasseur.

  7. Red Bull with Verstappen, Ferrari with Leclerc and now McLaren with Norris (Yes, Piastri wasn’t and won’t be allowed to race Norris). All top teams apparently want to have a clear number one driver on a long term contract. It’s a bit disappointing, and suddenly it’s Mercedes of alle teams that comes closest twice having two drivers of equal status.

    1. I don’t know, to me both mclaren and mercedes are going with 2 alphas, I don’t think piastri has any less chance to assert himself at mclaren than russell at merc.

  8. Michael (@freelittlebirds)
    28th January 2024, 18:03

    Where else can he go? Unless something happens, Red Bull has the next few seasons locked with Verstappen. He is not going to Red Bull, not going to Mercedes, not going to Ferrari.

    Aston Martin? No room and not a sensible move.

    Williams? Legendary team but not at the same level as McLaren by any means at present.

    Alpine? Pourquoi?

    The bottom 3? No way…

Comments are closed.