McLaren have confirmed that their second driver for 2019 will be 18 year old Lando Norris who replaces Stoffel Vandoorne and will be partnering Carlos Sainz Jr for the 2019 campaign.
Announced on Monday, McLaren confirmed that Belgian Stoffel Vandoorne would not be racing with the team next year. Vandoorne, who joined their young driver program in 2013, became a test driver in 2014 and raced for the team at the 2016 Bahrain GP where he scored points. He became a full time driver at McLaren after replacing Jenson Button for 2017 and has partnered Fernando Alonso since.
A few hours later, McLaren announced that rising star Lando Norris would take Vandoorne’s seat and partner Carlos Sainz Jr for the 2019 F1 Season. Norris is currently 2nd in the F2 championship and trails Mercedes junior driver George Russell.
Why did McLaren chose Norris?
McLaren regard the 18-year-old as a special talent who was too good to ignore. McLaren boss, Zak Brown, said that Norris was “an immense talent.”
Coupled with 24 year old Sainz, McLaren are looking to the future and currently the right fit for their current position.
Norris has tested on four occasions for McLaren, most recently in last month’s two-days after the Hungarian GP, and drove in Practice One at the Belgian and Italian GPs. His pace was great, better than Vandoorne’s time at Spa, but also in Italy where he showed great skill in the rain and was half a second down on Alonso.
McLaren say that they needed to promote Norris as he was attracting attention from other F1 teams. Most notably was Toro Rosso when the Italian squad tried to sign the youngster in June in replacement of Brendon Hartley. McLaren turned this down and with Vandoorne not performing well up against Alonso, Norris was ultimately the right choice for the team.
What happens to Vandoorne?
It’s fair to say that it has been a hard 2018 campaign so far for the Belgian. Vandoorne hasn’t scored points since Baku as he has struggled to get to grips with the MCL33 and his tally of 8 points leaves him 16th in the championship.
One of the main sticking points for Vandoorne as he is yet to out-qualify Alonso in the 14 races so far this year. He is also on a run of seven consecutive Q1 eliminations.
Vandoorne is a very talented driver but has not been able to show his skill at McLaren who have gone through a very difficult and lacklustre couple of years with Brown accepting that they “haven’t provided Stoffel with the tools to show his true talent.”
This is not the first time this has happened with McLaren as Sergio Perez and Kevin Magnussen found out when they joined the team in 2013 and 2014. Both left after just one year but have salvaged their F1 careers at other teams.
Toro Rosso and Sauber are potential options for Vandoorne if he wants to race in F1 next year but Brown was quoted to say that “we have some other racing activities we are reviewing, and I wouldn’t hesitate to keep Stoffel in the McLaren family if there was a seat available and he had a desire to race in it.”
2019 Driver Line-up
- Mercedes: Lewis Hamilton and Valterri Bottas
- Ferrari: Sebastian Vettel
- Red Bull: Max Verstappen and Pierre Gasly
- Renault: Daniel Ricciardo and Nico Hulkenberg
- McLaren: Carlos Sainz and Lando Norris
- Toro Rosso: