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.
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.
Lewis Hamilton celebrated one of the finest victories of his career after he went behind enemy lines to stun Ferrari and take a major step towards securing a fifth world championship.
The fanatical Tifosi supporters arrived in Monza for the Italian Grand Prix expecting to see Sebastian Vettel convert a Ferrari lockout of the front row into a crushing win.
Instead, they saw their number one championship contender fall out of the reckoning after just four corners following a clumsy opening-lap collision with his rival.
Then, they witnessed Hamilton deliver a sensational performance which climaxed in the Brit passing Kimi Raikkonen for his 68th career win. Vettel recovered from last to fourth.
“Given the sheer pressure that we are under, I will definitely consider this win to be right up there in my career,” Hamilton said.
“There are a lot of Ferrari fans out there, and you hear a lot of negative sounds, but that only encourages and energises me.
“When I spot the British flags amongst the Ferrari red, that is my fuel, and I get my positivity and energy from them. They are the miracle today.”
Vettel was at his commanding best seven days ago to win in Belgium, but his defeat here is a major setback in his championship quest, and from one which he will struggle to recover.
On a frantic opening lap, Vettel covered the inside at the second chicane, but Hamilton moved to the racing line and was ahead going into the corner. Vettel did not want to concede the place, and in doing so, thudded into Hamilton’s Mercedes before spiralling into a spin.
Vettel, who limped back to the pits for repairs, blamed Hamilton for failing to leave him enough room as they tangled. “Silly”, was the German’s verdict.
The stewards took no action, but Nico Rosberg, the 2016 world champion, had made up his mind.
“I think it was 100 per cent Sebastian’s fault,” Rosberg said on Sky Sports commentary. “Hamilton gave him all the room. He’s not going to become world champion if he keeps doing these things.”
Indeed, it marked Vettel’s fifth big error of the season, while Hamilton has largely failed to put a foot wrong. It is proving the difference.
“I didn’t want to walk away with here leaving something on the table,” Hamilton said. “I love the wheel-to-wheel battles, and it is the thing I love most about racing.
“That was one tough race, but really fun and enjoyable. This season is shaping up to being one of the best.”
Bottas completed the podium positions. Max Verstappen was demoted to fifth after pushing Bottas off the track.