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Lando Norris

Brown confident key driver will stay at McLaren

Will McLaren's recent good form help convince Lando Norris to commit his long-term future to the team?

Norris podium Silverstone 2023
To news overview © XPBimages

McLaren CEO Zak Brown has said a recent upturn in form was just what was needed in order to convince driver Lando Norris of the team's potential.

A sluggish start to the 2023 season saw Norris and teammate Oscar Piastri struggle even to score points, with Norris saying as recently as June that no track suited the recalcitrant MCL60.

However, a raft of mid-season upgrades has transformed the car's competitiveness, allowing Norris to take back-to-back second-place finishes at the British and Hungarian Grands Prix, beaten on both occasions only by runaway Championship leader Max Verstappen.

Norris is now in his fifth year in F1 with McLaren, and Brown said the team's recent good results were vital to show Norris that he would not need to leave Woking in order to scale F1's highest peaks.

"I think it's been massively important for all of us. It shows we can do it," Brown told ESPN of McLaren's return to form.

"That being said, we haven't won [a Grand Prix] with [Norris] yet.

"He loves McLaren, it's been his family, so there's no doubt in my mind is his number one choice is to win a World Championship with McLaren.

"I think the best thing we do to retain him is to demonstrate to him we're a team capable of doing that.

"It's not a case of wooing him or not wooing him, it's about giving him a car where he can look himself in the mirror and say 'I think I can win a World Championship with this team'."

Will McLaren's backroom changes persuade Norris to stay?

McLaren has undergone a significant backroom upheaval in the last 12 months, with previous Team Principal Andreas Seidl leaving and being replaced by Andrea Stella, in a promotion from within.

The team's sluggish start to 2023 also prompted a reshuffle, with Technical Director James Key replaced by a three-pronged design team comprising David Sanchez, Peter Prodromou and Neil Houldley.

McLaren has also taken delivery of its new wind tunnel at the team's Woking headquarters, meaning it no longer has to use the Toyota facility in Cologne, and Brown added that these changes should give Norris every reason to believe that he can win titles with McLaren, especially with F1's next big regulation change coming in 2026.

"We've got our team in place. It's stable. We have additional talent coming to be additive to what we currently have. We have all the financial resources we need," said Brown.

"It's just going to take a little bit of time so as long as we can show this progress, '26 is going to be a huge reset for this sport and there's not going to be any excuses for us. We have everything we need from resources, people, two great drivers, all the technology, infrastructure.

"As long as [Norris] continues to see our pace and development then I think he'll have all the confidence in the world that this team's won 20 World Championships and have everything they need.

"You look down the grid, there's as many unknowns about '26. Red Bull with a new engine, how's that going to be? They've never done that before. There's all sorts of variables going on there and I think our story is as good as anyone's."

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