Mclaren has announced that test driver Lando Norris will drive for the team in 2019 as Stoffel Vandoorne will leave the outfit.
Vandoorne made his F1 debut standing in for Fernando Alonso at the 2016 Bahrain Grand Prix and impressed by scoring Mclaren’s first points of the season.
He was then promoted to a full-time drive in 2017 as Jenson Button retired. But has struggled to be competitive with the Mclaren package and with partnering double world champion Alonso.
Norris, on the other hand, is currently 2nd in the Formula 2 standings, 22 points behind leader and Mercedes Junior George Russell.
He will partner Renault departee Carlos Sainz (will replace Fernando Alonso) on a multi-year deal.
“To be announced as a race driver for McLaren is a dream come true.” Said Norris.
“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.
“I’d like to thank the whole team for this amazing opportunity and for believing in me. I’m also extremely grateful for the commitment McLaren has already shown in my development, allowing me to build my experience in a Formula 1 car in both testing and on Fridays during the past two race weekends.
“For the remainder of 2018, my focus remains firmly on the Formula 2 championship. My objective is to win the title before joining McLaren full-time, which will be tough, but I will fight as hard as I can for the remaining four races.”
There were a number of drivers contacted with drive, should Mclaren have dropped Vandoorne, including Esteban Ocon (who many loose his Force India seat), Ricciardo, Ericsson and so on.
“We’re very pleased to finally be able to reveal who will complete our driver line-up at McLaren for 2019,” said Mclaren Principal Zac Brown
“We believe Lando is an exciting talent, full of potential, who we’ve very deliberately kept within the McLaren fold for exactly that reason.
“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. The investment we have made in his budding career with simulator development and seat-time in the car has been well-deserved, as he has continued to prove his abilities both behind the wheel and in his work with the engineering team.”