Lando Norris sets sights on emulating Lewis Hamilton as he approaches F1 history

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Lando Norris will become the youngest Formula One driver in British history next season.

Lando Norris hopes to emulate four-time world champion Lewis Hamilton as he prepares to become the youngest Formula One driver in British history.

Teenager Norris, who turns 19 in November, will follow in the footsteps of compatriot Hamilton by joining McLaren as a rookie for the 2019 season.

He will team up with Spaniard Carlos Sainz to represent Britain’s most successful team after Fernando Alonso announced his retirement and Belgian Stoffel Vandoorne was dropped.

“I think it’s nice to be compared to such a good driver. I have admired Lewis since I started watching Formula One because I know how a good a driver he is and I know how hard it is,” Norris said.

“And for him to have done as well as he has done is pretty impressive.

“Hopefully one day I can have as many championship wins as he has. But I think more of my focus is on next year rather than thinking what could happen.”

Lando Norris wants to emulate fellow Briton Lewis Hamilton.

Lando Norris wants to emulate fellow Briton Lewis Hamilton.

Current world champion Hamilton was aged 22 when he burst on to the scene for McLaren at the season-opening 2007 Australian Grand Prix.

Jenson Button was given his big break by Williams when he was just 20 at the turn of the century, but Norris will now eclipse them both when he takes to the grid in Melbourne on March 17.

His opportunity comes after he impressed in the McLaren car during recent practice sessions at the Belgian and Italian Grands Prix.

The current Formula Two driver has no concerns about making the step up at such a tender age.

“It doesn’t matter if I was older – 20, 21, 22, whatever – I think I would still do the same job,” he said.

“I’m trying to do as good a job as I can next year, try and get back to winning ways with the team and just see how it goes.

“I just see it as an opportunity. I think McLaren are at a point where they need to have new drivers and a fresh start to do well in the future.

“It feels good that they believe in me, I think that’s very important.

Jenson Button was 20 when he made his F1 debut.

Jenson Button was 20 when he made his F1 debut.

“The top category of racing, it’s a cruel world so we’ll see how it goes.”

Norris was signed by McLaren last year after impressing in the junior categories of motor racing. He then won the prestigious Formula Three championship with two rounds to spare before he was promoted to the role of reserve driver with the British team.

The 18-year-old was notified of his promotion by McLaren CEO Zak Brown in Monza at the weekend.

“It was slightly unexpected; obviously I was pushing for it and did everything I could to try and get it. But it came a bit more sudden that I thought,” he said.

“It literally went from leaving the track to Zak saying I was going to get the drive next year.

“It’s a really cool thing to think about and, of course, I was pretty happy with the news, just knowing that everything I worked for in the past 10, 11 years has finally paid off.”

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Teenager Lando Norris to replace Stoffel Vandoorne at McLaren next season

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Lando Norris has been given a dream contract to race in Formula 1 with McLaren from 2019, replacing the departing Belgian Stoffel Vandoorne.

The 18-year-old Englishman, who had taken part in practice at the last two races in Belgium and Italy, was confirmed as McLaren’s new driver just minutes after the team announced Vandoorne would be leaving.

He will be the second Briton on the 2019 grid after world champion Lewis Hamilton.

“To be announced as a race driver for McLaren is a dream come true. 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,” Norris said.

“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.

“I’ll also be working closely with McLaren at every opportunity to learn as much as possible from the drivers, engineers and mechanics to give myself the best preparation ahead of next year.”

Norris will form a new-look McLaren team alongside Spaniard Carlos Sainz, who was signed last month to succeed Fernando Alonso following the star’s decision to quit after 17 years in the sport.

Lando has been part of the McLaren young driver programme since early 2017, when he officially joined the team as test and simulator driver.

Since then, Lando has regularly conducted race simulation work for the team and also participated in Formula 1 testing – in Abu Dhabi in 2017, and Spain and Hungary in 2018.

Last year, he contested the European Formula 3 Championship, which he won at the first attempt.

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Stoffel Vandoorne dropped by McLaren for 2019 F1 season

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McLaren have announced that Stoffel Vandoorne will be dropped at the end of the season.

Vandoorne’s departure could pave the way for Lando Norris, the British team’s reserve driver, to take his place next year.

Norris, the 18-year-old Englishman, has participated in practice at the last two grands prix for McLaren, and is on a three-driver shortlist for 2019.

Sergio Perez and Esteban Ocon are also in contention for the seat, although it is understood that the former has already agreed a deal with Force India for next year.

Frenchman Ocon has strong ties with Mercedes, and it is uncertain whether they would allow him to join McLaren on a permanent deal.

Spaniard Carlos Sainz has already been announced as one of the two McLaren drivers for next year.

Vandoorne, 26, replaced Jenson Button at McLaren for the 2017 season, but despite a steady opening campaign, the Belgian has been desperately out of sorts in recent races.

He has not scored a point since the fourth round, while Fernando Alonso, the double world champion who is retiring from the sport at the end of the year, has beaten his team-mate in qualifying at every race this season.

Vandoorne qualified last for Sunday’s Italian Grand Prix before he took the chequered flag in 12th.

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