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Lando Norris signs new multi-year McLaren deal to end Red Bull speculation

Third placed qualifier Lando Norris of Great Britain and McLaren talks to the media in parc ferme during qualifying ahead of the F1 Grand Prix of Spain at Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya on June 03, 2023 in Barcelona, Spain
Third placed qualifier Lando Norris of Great Britain and McLaren talks to the media in parc ferme during qualifying ahead of the F1 Grand Prix of Spain at Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya on June 03, 2023 in Barcelona, Spain

Lando Norris has signed a “multi-year” extension to his current McLaren contract, which was due to expire at the end of 2025. The British driver, one of the hottest properties on the Formula One grid, said he wanted to “put the rumours to bed” that he might join another team - Red Bull are known admirers - and commit his future to Woking at an important moment in the sport, with new regulations coming up in 2026.

Norris’ show of faith will come as a huge boost to McLaren, who have real momentum at the moment. The British team were the most improved on the grid last season, with Norris outscoring every driver bar Red Bull’s champion Max Verstappen from the mid-point of the season onwards.

At an event last week to unveil their 2024 livery, McLaren team principal Andrea Stella and chief executive Zak Brown said they were “very confident” the team could continue that upward trajectory, with young Australian Oscar Piastri continuing to push Norris, plus a new wind tunnel, a new simulator, and two new senior engineers coming on stream this season.

Norris, 24, agreed the feeling around a team he first joined as a junior driver back in 2017 was the best he had ever known.

“It’s definitely a new level from where we’ve been,” he said on a media call to announce his new deal. “I’m convinced, as a team, we have everything we need in order to achieve [a world championship].”

Norris did not deny that he had held talks with other teams, insisting “everyone speaks to everyone” in the paddock. But he said talks “never progressed” with anyone else, and in the end he wanted to end any speculation as he entered the final two years of his deal.

Norris (right) outperformed every driver on the grid in the second half of the season aside from Verstappen
Norris (right) outperformed every driver on the grid in the second half of the season aside from Verstappen - Getty Images/Clive Mason

Asked why he did not want to wait and see how McLaren’s progressed over the next 18 months, he replied:“It [his contract] is not something that I want to really worry about over the next few years, especially when it’s going to be coming to a couple of years where things start to get a bit more crazy with everyone else’s contracts and people potentially moving teams and things like that.

“With the 2026 regulations and everything, that’s not something I or the team want to be thinking about. So yeah, I’m comfortable. I’m happy with where I am. And the team are happy with me. So it’s just an easy decision.”

Some might accuse Norris of ducking the challenge of taking on Verstappen at Red Bull. There has been plenty of speculation that the second Red Bull seat was his should he have wanted it. But Norris said he was not convinced Red Bull were a better option than McLaren post-2025. And he added that he hoped his show of faith would give the wider McLaren team a boost.

McLaren would not reveal any details of the contract beyond the fact it was a “multi-year” extension that went “well beyond his current contract”.

“I’m sure when you work here and you see one of your drivers getting linked to other teams, that’s probably never an easy thing to see,” Norris said. “So I think from my side, to give everyone here at McLaren that bit more confidence in me, to show my confidence in our team, I think that’s probably the most important thing. That I’m committed to the team and staying and that I’ve picked McLaren over Ferrari, Red Bull, Mercedes, whatever team it could have been. Yeah, they now have that reassurance that I’ve picked McLaren over all of them.”

Stella, who was performance engineer for Michael Schumacher and Kimi Raikkonen when they won titles at Ferrari, said he was convinced Norris had all the tools to be a world champion.

“Lando definitely stands together with them or is the same kind of world champion material,” the Italian said. “He has the underlying talent, the mindset, the work ethos. It’s all ready to go. He just needs to keep growing, like every champion does.”

Asked how soon he expected to be challenging for the title - whether it was possible before 2026 or only once the new regulations come in - Norris said he was not sure.

“There were moments last year when we were close to winning races,” he said. “And last year, when you think of it, [Red Bull] had the most competitive car ever in Formula One.

“But fighting for a championship is a bigger step. If you ask me ‘Do you think you can win races this year?’ I’d probably be more inclined to say yes. But to go straight to ‘Can you win races and the championship?’ I think that’s another level, both for myself and for the whole team.

“But I feel I’m ready to go up against Max and Lewis [Hamilton] and fight against them. We’ll see how we do this year and then you can ask me that question again.”

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