17-Year-Old Lando Norris Announced as McLaren's 2018 F1 Reserve Driver
The young Briton won the Formula 3 Championship in his first attempt this past season.
McLaren junior program leader and this year's Formula 3 champion, Lando Norris, has been announced as the team's official reserve driver for next season. The 17-year-old Brit has been with the team since the start of the year and has proven successful throughout. He will join the McLaren crew on the road by taking part in simulator and on-track tests as well as attending Grand Prix races alongside active drivers Stoffel Vandoorne and Fernando Alonso.
Norris made his F1 debut with the team in August at the Hungaroring. Since then, he has strengthened his relationship with McLaren and eventually earned himself a European F3 Championship in his first try.
"I’m so excited to be joining McLaren as test and reserve driver for 2018,” said Norris. “The last 12 months have been an incredible journey for me – I’ve enjoyed every single minute – and this is just an amazing way to bring the year to an end.
“I’m really looking forward to helping the team, starting next week with the tire test at Interlagos, and I will work harder than ever to learn and develop across the next year. I have two excellent teachers in Fernando [Alonso] and Stoffel [Vandoorne], and I will do my best to help with the team’s efforts to get back to the front.”
The youngster has been a vital part of McLaren's successful junior program that also produced Stoffel Vandoorne, a former GP2 champion. As Norris heads into 2018, he is looking for a full-time racing spot to go along with his newly designated testing duties.
“I’m still working hard to finalize my own racing program for 2018 – we’re close on a number of different fronts, but not quite there yet,” he added. “I hope to be able to announce something shortly.”
McLaren racing director Eric Boullier applauded Norris' talent going into next season, saying he will surely be up to the task of standing in if need be.
“Lando is somebody who arrives with a very high level of ability, ambition, and application; it is our job to develop and fine-tune his focus as we increase his understanding of how a Formula 1 team operates and how a modern Grand Prix car works.
“There will be plenty of opportunity to observe, learn and participate throughout 2018, and we want to make sure Lando is fully prepared, if needed, to step into Fernando or Stoffel’s shoes at a moment’s notice.”
Additionally, Norris will race with Fernando Alonso at January's 24 Hours of Daytona under the banner of United Autosports, a team owned by McLaren boss Zak Brown.