Formula 1: Vandoorne Out, Lando Norris in at McLaren for 2019
The teenager will replace who was once McLaren’s star prodigy and drive alongside Carlos Sainz next season.
McLaren announced on Monday that it will be starting fresh in 2019 by opting to sign up-and-coming Formula 2 star Lando Norris to drive alongside Carlos Sainz next year, leaving Stoffel Vandoorne effectively out of the equation.
A tumultuous period for the Woking, England-based manufacturer has led to the internal shuffling that also included former Race Director Eric Boullier as well as the infamous exit of star driver Fernando Alonso that's coming at the end of 2018. Vandoorne, who is in his sophomore year with the team, has struggled in 2018 thus far, scoring eight points to Alonso's 44. He's also been out-qualified by his teammate in all but three Grand Prix weekends during his nearly two years as part of McLaren's Formula 1 outfit.
Norris, on the other hand, can be viewed as a new face with the hope for gain as he has been the most successful McLaren junior in 2018. His recent free practice outing at Monza gave a glimpse to his abilities as did his performance in testing at Barcelona, giving team executives high expectations for his performance in the big leagues next season.
"We believe Lando is an exciting talent, full of potential, who we've very deliberately kept within the McLaren fold for exactly that reason," said McLaren Chief Executive Zak Brown. "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."
Norris, 18, is surely anxious to fill the position as he stated in a release from the constructor: "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."
Cumulatively, McLaren has retooled its lineup to bring about an air of new talent that CEO Zak Brown believes could put an end to its trying times.
"In Lando and Carlos we have an impressive duo who, despite their relative youth, hold valuable experience in Formula 1 and with McLaren, and represent the next generation of McLaren drivers to lead the team forward," said Brown. "While our short-term focus is fixed on securing the best possible result for the remainder of the 2018 season, we're also massively motivated by the opportunities that lie ahead."