With Red Bull links never far away, securing Lando Norris’ long-term future will be a priority for McLaren CEO Zak Brown in 2024.
Norris, under contract with McLaren through to the end of 2025, has been a Red Bull target on several occasions during his racing career.
Red Bull attempted to sign him to an F1 deal in 2018 when he was still racing in Formula Two, while Norris appears to be a potential benefactor should Sergio Perez not do enough to keep his seat with the world champions beyond 2024.
Brown feels confident Norris is happy to extend beyond his current deal.
Asked about the British driver’s future, Brown said: “On the Lando front, I feel my primary role is to get the right people in place, give them the right resources, and the support.
“That’s Andrea [Stella, F1 team boss] and the entire team. Of course when you’re building a team that you have desires to get back to winning the world championship, you need the management, you need the technology, the infrastructure, and of course you need the two grand prix drivers. And I think we have all of those in place.
“So, no, I’m very confident the relationship that we have with Lando [remains strong]. I know he’s very excited for this year and was very impressed with what he saw in the second half of last year.
“He loves working with Andrea and everyone on the team. So, all we need to keep doing is giving him the environment he wants to be in.
“And then I’m confident he’ll stick around, as opposed to trying to kind of sell against the competition. That’s never been my way.”
McLaren has extended Norris’ teammate Oscar Piastri, who impressed as a rookie, to 2027, taking him beyond 2026, the season which will feature a completely set of engine regulations and, potentially, a completely shaken up competitive order.
Brown added: “We have Lando under contract for another couple of years. Of course, we’re in dialogue with him on a continuous basis as he’s starting to think through as we are, we’re very focused now here, obviously on the short term but also ’26 isn’t far away, and recognize being able to retain Lando and Oscar for the foreseeable future is definitely a key element and something that is a high priority for us.”
Despite being one of F1’s most popular superstars, Norris is still yet to claim a grand prix triumph.
He scored eight podiums in 2023 and led on multiple occasions, although the McLaren was ultimately unable to compete with Red Bull out in front.
The 24-year-old blamed himself for squandering two opportunities in 2023, when he felt he had qualified poorly in Qatar and Abu Dhabi when a stronger starting position might have led to a victory challenge.
McLaren team boss Andreas Stella believes ticking off the first victory will be a big boost to Norris’ confidence.
“I think the first victory is always somehow the most important, because when you have come to some confidence with it, I think some other things come slightly easier. But at the moment, I would say the main reason why this has not been possible is because we haven’t put Lando in condition to consistently compete for the victory.
“So when Lando wins his first race, it will be a beautiful moment. He’s ready for that. It’s more about us being ready in delivering the car that allows him to take the opportunities. At the moment, like actually we’ve been leading races, even last year, more than once, but we couldn’t kind of consolidate this result up to the checkered flag. So conditions are there.
“We’re very impressed by how Lando actually was leading the races, like if you think he was [saying] we gave everything we could, Brazil, actually was another one where just a few more tenths in the car, and the victory would have come home. We look forward to it, and hopefully we’ll have the opportunity in 2024.”