Lando Norris has been named McLaren F1’s official test and reserve driver for the 2018 Formula 1 season, the team announced Monday.
Norris won the prestigious McLaren Autosport BRDC Young Driver Award last December, then completed his first official F1 test with the team’s Honda-powered MCL32 at the Hungaroring in August. He was second on the timesheets behind Sebastian Vettel.
The soon-to-be-18-year-old Englishman won the FIA F3 European Championship this year and is also confirmed alongside Fernando Alonso and Phil Hanson in one of United Autosports’ Ligier JS P217 Gibsons at next year’s Rolex 24 at Daytona.
Beyond his reserve program, Norris’ racing program for 2018 is in the process of being finalized. Like Stoffel Vandoorne, it could be in Japan in Super Formula or in Formula 2.
“No words can fully describe my feelings to be given this amazing opportunity by McLaren,” Norris said. “My first introduction to the [McLaren] brand came with winning the McLaren AutosportBRDC Young Driver Award last December and then within two months, I was selected on to its McLaren Young Driver program. Both have been an incredible experience. But to now get the chance as an official test and reserve driver in 2018 is another vital step towards my goal of one day racing in F1.
“It’s also a fantastic opportunity to become further integrated within the McLaren ‘family’ and that starts next week with a tire test at Interlagos. I’ll continue to work hard and my aim is to broaden my skills. I have two excellent tutors in Fernando [Alonso] and Stoffel [Vandoorne] and the intention is to help with the team’s efforts to get back to the front. My management team is working hard to finalize my own racing program for 2018 which will be either Super Formula in Japan or Formula 2. In terms of Formula 3, I will sign off from this category in Macau the weekend after next.”
Zak Brown, McLaren Technology Group Executive Director, added: “His summer test for McLaren was also remarkably impressive, and was further proof that he is ready to step up and take on a role of this size, scope and responsibility. At McLaren, we are all extremely keen to help him achieve his goal of racing in Formula 1.”
Eric Boullier, McLaren Racing Director, said: “We feel it’s very important to have a fully enrolled test and reserve driver within the team. Lando will attend grands prix and become a fully integrated member of the team. Lando is somebody who arrives with a very high level of ability, ambition and application; it is our job to develop and fine-tune his focus as we increase his understanding of how a Formula 1 team operates and how a modern grand prix car works. There will be plenty of opportunity to observe, learn and participate throughout 2018, and we want to make sure Lando is fully prepared, if needed, to step into Fernando or Stoffel’s shoes at a moment’s notice.”