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McLaren junior Norris wraps up FIA F3 Europe title at Hockenheim

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McLaren Formula 1 youngster Lando Norris continued his stunning 2017 season by wrapping up the FIA European Formula 3 title on Saturday at Hockenheim with two races to spare.

Norris, 17, missed out on the chance to clinch the championship at the previous round in Austria following a last lap clash, but entered the first of three races at Hockenheim on Saturday with the odds stacked heavily in his favor.

The McLaren-backed Briton finished second in the opening leg of the Hockenheim weekend behind Joel Eriksson, scoring the required points to move into an unassailable lead with two races remaining.

The title victory comes in Norris’ first year in the competitive F3 series that has produced drivers such as Max Verstappen, Esteban Ocon and Lance Stroll in recent years.

It also marks Norris’ fifth junior title in the space of just three years, following successes in MSA Formula, Eurocup Formula Renault 2.0, Formula Renault 2.0 NEC and the Toyota Racing Series.

“It’s been a fantastically successful year and a season in which it hopefully takes me closer to realizing my Formula 1 dream,” Norris said.

“Carlin gave me a fast, competitive car from the opening event at Silverstone and my thanks go to Trevor [Carlin] and his amazing crew.

“I’m loving my role as a McLaren Young Driver, spending time in the simulator at the McLaren Technology Centre and attending some Grands Prix with the team. Winning this title can only help me become an F1 driver.”

Norris enjoyed his first F1 test with McLaren earlier this year during the collective running at the Hungaroring, putting in an impressive display for the British team.

McLaren is planning to place Norris in Formula 2 for 2018, with the championship traditionally acting as the final stepping stone before F1.

Report: Spencer Pigot out at Ed Carpenter Racing

Joe Skibinski / IndyCar
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Spencer Pigot will not return to Ed Carpenter Racing in 2020, according to a story Thursday by RACER.com.

The 26-year-old Floridian, who won the 2015 Indy Lights championship, is expected to be replaced in the No. 21 Chevrolet by 2019 Indy Lights runner-up Rinus VeeKay.

“I’m appreciative of the opportunity ECR gave me,” Pigot told RACER.com. “I understand the reasons they had to go in a different direction, and wish them all the best.”

In 56 NTT IndyCar Series starts, Pigot has 15 top 10 finishes, with a best finish of second at Iowa in 2018. He finished 14th in the 2019 point standings.

VeeKay, who tested in an Indy car twice for ECR in 2019, has six wins in 18 Indy Lights starts, including a weekend sweep of the final two rounds of the season at Laguna Seca in September.

A representative from ECR told NBC Sports Thursday that the team currently could not comment on any driver rumors as the team currently does not have any drivers under contract for the 2020 season, although it is presumed that owner/driver Carpenter will return to the No. 20 entry for the oval rounds.

NBC Sports will provide updates on the story once more information becomes available.