Lando Norris openly admits he may not get the opportunity to step up into Formula 1 in 2019 with the McLaren F1 Team, even though he hopes to give them a headache thinking about their driver line-up for next season.
The Briton has won five championships in the past four years and started his first full season in the FIA Formula 2 championship with victory in the Feature race in Bahrain at the beginning of April, but even if he takes the title in his rookie campaign, he feels the current line-up of Fernando Alonso and Stoffel Vandoorne are in favour with McLaren and it could leave him on the outside looking in.
“Obviously a headache would be nice!” said Norris to Motorsport.com. “It’s good for me and it means at least they are thinking about what position I could be in. But I think they are very happy with Fernando and Stoffel at the moment.
“The team is in a position now where there’s a lot of development going on and having a slightly more experienced driver is a help. The rate of development is slightly faster than if I jumped in.
“Every year I’ve taken a step up into the next category. It could be the first year I don’t get this opportunity to step up but I don’t think this is something I need to be thinking about right now.”
Should McLaren choose not to promote Norris and he does win the Formula 2 title as a rookie, they are unlikely to allow him to race for a rival team, so following in the footsteps of Vandoorne and Pierre Gasly, the 2015 and 2016 GP2 Series champions, into the Japanese-based Super Formula championship could be an option.
Norris has been told that he will get some track time with McLaren with their MCL33 in 2018 and is expecting to be involved in either one of the young driver tests or a Pirelli tyre test.
“I haven’t been told the exact day I’ll be in the car,” said Norris. “Hopefully one of the young driver tests or Pirelli tests.
“If anything happened to Fernando or Stoffel, I’d have a bit more understanding about the car and more confident jumping in and doing a good job.”