All’indomani del GP d’Italia, la McLaren ha confermato che Stoffel Vandoorne lascerà il team McLaren al termine della stagione 2018 e sarà sostituito dal 18enne Lando Norris, che affiancherà il neo-acquisto Carlos Sainz.
Stoffel joined the McLaren Young Driver Programme in 2013, became Test Driver in 2014 and won the GP2 Championship in 2015 while part of the McLaren family. In 2016, he became Reserve Driver, where he deputised for Fernando Alonso at the Bahrain Grand Prix, impressively scoring a point on his debut. He was promoted to race driver to partner Fernando from the start of the 2017 season, and has contested 34 grands prix with the team to date.
Zak Brown, CEO, McLaren Racing: “We’re immensely thankful for Stoffel’s dedication, hard work and commitment during his time at McLaren. He’s a talented racing driver with an incredible list of accolades in his junior career. We’re proud to have played a part in his break into Formula 1, from his role as Test Driver to his fantastic points-scoring debut in Bahrain in 2016. It’s clear we haven’t provided Stoffel with the tools to show his true talent, but throughout our relationship he’s proved to be a fantastic team player. His work ethic is impressive, he has a great reputation within the team and we’ve really enjoyed working with him. Of course, we would have loved to achieve more success during our time together, but that doesn’t detract from the fact that he will always be a part of the McLaren family of grand prix drivers.
“For now, we look to the future and to the remaining grands prix in 2018, where I know both Stoffel and Fernando will be pushing hard to fight for as many points as possible before we close the curtain on this season. We wish Stoffel all the best in whatever direction he chooses to take next in his career, and we’ll be supporting him all the way. We will announce our full driver line-up for the 2019 season in due course.”
Stoffel Vandoorne: “I’m very grateful to McLaren for investing their faith in me over the past five years. I joined McLaren as a young driver and have since seen my career progress within the team from Test and Development Driver to Reserve Driver and then to full-time race driver. While we haven’t achieved the success we’d all hoped for, I’ve really enjoyed the past two seasons racing for McLaren and I have a great relationship with everyone in the team. My time at McLaren has been a great chapter in my career and I’m thankful for the opportunity the team, Shaikh Mohammed bin Essa Al Khalifa and Mansour Ojjeh have given me to gain valuable Formula 1 experience and develop as a driver. I intend to give it my all for the remaining seven races of this season, and will announce my plans for next season in due course.”
McLaren is delighted to announce that Lando Norris will complete McLaren’s driver line-up for the 2019 season. Lando, 18, from Somerset, UK, is McLaren Test and Reserve Driver and is contending the 2018 FIA Formula 2 Championship. He currently sits second in the championship, having won on his Formula 2 debut from pole position, with four races from two events remaining. Lando will partner Spaniard Carlos Sainz, 23, at McLaren in 2019, as part of a multi-year agreement with the team. Although 2019 will be Lando’s first season racing in Formula 1, he is no stranger to McLaren or F1 machinery.
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. Most recently, he has driven in the first free practice sessions in both Belgium and Italy. In his early career prior to joining McLaren, Lando rose rapidly through the ranks in junior racing categories, winning the Formula Renault 2.0 Northern European Cup, Formula Renault 2.0 Eurocup and the Toyota Racing Series Championship all in 2016, in addition to five karting championships in the four previous years. Last year, he contested the European Formula 3 Championship, which he won at the first attempt.
Zak Brown, CEO, McLaren Racing: “We’re very pleased to finally be able to reveal who will complete our driver line-up at McLaren for 2019. We believe Lando is an exciting talent, full of potential, who we’ve very deliberately kept within the McLaren fold for exactly that reason. We already know he’s fast, he learns quickly, and has a mature head on his young shoulders. We see much potential for our future together. The investment we have made in his budding career with simulator development and seat-time in the car has been well-deserved, as he has continued to prove his abilities both behind the wheel and in his work with the engineering team. Lando is an integral part of our plan for rebuilding our Formula 1 operation for the future, and he has already developed a strong relationship with the team.
“In Lando and Carlos we have an impressive duo who, despite their relative youth, hold valuable experience in Formula 1 and with McLaren, and represent the next generation of McLaren drivers to lead the team forward. While our short-term focus is fixed on securing the best possible result for the remainder of the 2018 season, we’re also massively motivated by the opportunities that lie ahead.”
Lando Norris: “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. 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. For the remainder of 2018, my focus remains firmly on the Formula 2 championship. My objective is to win the title before joining McLaren full-time, which will be tough, but I will fight as hard as I can for the remaining four races. 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.”