McLaren chief Zak Brown has revealed that McLaren ultimately believed that another team would be quick to promote Lando Norris to Formula One if they decided to delay his ascendancy, but denied that this played a major factor in their decision to name the youngster in their 2019 line-up.
Norris is viewed as one of the most exciting prospects in the sport and the potential heir to Lewis Hamilton as Britain’s best driver.
McLaren have been struggling this season and it was reported they would be looking to shake-up their line-up for 2019, which was only solidified by Fernando Alonso‘s decision to retire from the sport to focus on the World Endurance Championship.
Norris is a junior driver for McLaren and has competed at every level, with the team now giving him a promotion to F1 next season.
Brown admitted that it was a matter of time before Norris made the jump, and McLaren didn’t want to pass up the opportunity.
“We knew that he would have been snapped up by another team, but ultimately we were always on an ‘around the summer break’ timeline,” Brown explained.
“We weren’t pressured by that or didn’t make a decision driven by that, but we’re fully aware that if he wasn’t going to be driving for us next year he would be driving for someone else.
“I assume it would have been Toro Rosso. Based on the phone calls I got, I think there was more than one team interested in him.”
Brown went on to claim that several other drivers were on their watchlist for a place behind the wheel, but that Norris was the logical choice.
“All the names, I’ve been open about it, those were all conversations we had, in the event we felt Lando was up for it,” the McLaren man continued.
“We were always down the path of, hence being our reserve driver, Lando’s who we intend to put in for next year, but we wanted to see how he would mature over the year.
“So in those instances you always want to have other plans in place or conversations going. We think all these drivers are very good race car drivers and were under consideration.
“But we’ve got the guy we wanted. We just wanted to be very diligent in our decision analysis of whether we felt he was ready to go.”