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McLaren F1 reject approach from Toro Rosso for Lando Norris
Posted By: Editor   |  07 Jun 2018   |  8:28 pm GMT  |  53 comments

McLaren have rejected an approach from Toro Rosso to sign Lando Norris to the Red Bull junior team for this season.

With regular driver Brendon Hartley seemingly under the spotlight to improve his performances, Toro Rosso have been looking to strike a deal with McLaren’s reserve driver.

The proposed deal would’ve seen Norris replace Hartley from the Austrian Grand Prix onward.

Norris was crowned the European Formula Three champion in 2017 and is the currently Formula Two championship leader, racing for Carlin and picking up one win and three more podiums in his debut season.

Speaking about the Toro Rosso situation, Norris said: “I’m flattered by the stories but I’m focused on F2 and committed to McLaren. I leave this sort of thing to my management.”

With the futures of current McLaren drivers Fernando Alonso and Stoffel Vandoorne not guaranteed, the team from Woking understandably want to keep their options open for 2019.

Speaking about the Toro Rosso offer, a McLaren spokesman said: “We are not surprised that other teams approach our drivers. They clearly believe they are as talented as we do.”

Alonso’s next career move is an open-ended one. Whilst there’s an outside chance he could be considered for a seat at either Mercedes, Ferrari or Red Bull next year, his most likely option appears to be McLaren, who will be hoping for major performance gains for the 2019 season.

It also remains to be seen if Alonso would have another attempt at the IndyCar scene, where he has a chance at competing in the Indy 500, one part of the ‘Triple Crown’ of motor sport that he has been eyeing up.

Meanwhile, Stoffel Vandoorne might start to feel pressure for the second McLaren seat if his performances don’t start to regularly match Alonso.

Hartley under pressure

Whilst Norris appears to be widely-tipped for an F1 seat in 2019, Hartley is under fire to start performing at Toro Rosso.

The New Zealander made a surprise return to the Formula One grid in 2017, replacing Daniil Kvyat at Toro Rosso and securing a seat for 2018.

However, through poor fortune and poor results, he has struggled to replicate the results of team-mate Pierre Gasly, who has out-scored him by seventeen points so far this season.

The latest reports on a driver switch at Toro Rosso won’t have helped his cause, with Hartley already conceding that he’s noticing the increased pressure compared to sportscar racing.

“There’s a little bit more media on a week-to-week basis in Formula 1, so you feel like there’s a few more eyes on you,” Hartley told Motorsport.com.

“In some ways, it can feel like maybe more pressure in Formula 1 because you’re one driver rather than three.

“I’m enjoying it. I do have to remind myself why I’m doing it and why I’m enjoying it, [because] there’s a lot of pressure involved.”

When discussing his start to the season, he admitted that his biggest disappointment was not being able to capitalise on the speed of the Toro Rosso at the Bahrain International Circuit, where Gasly took fourth place.

“I know you could argue it wasn’t the best start for me,” he said. “But actually when I look back on the first three races, two of the first three I out-qualified my team-mate.

“I’m really disappointed that in Bahrain I didn’t capitalise when we had such a strong car.

“It’s a constant learning process. There are moving targets in Formula 1 that are changing from a week-to-week basis, and constant updates.”

All images: Motorsport Images

Do you think Hartley should be kept on at Toro Rosso? Do you think Norris is destined for a Formula One drive in 2019? Leave your comments below.

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To be honest, I thought it was telling that rumours about Brendon Hartley’s position at STR started leaking out a few weeks ago. Usually, in my view, there’s no smoke without fire when it comes to these things.

I don’t think he’s done badly but I guess he’s got himself involved in a few scrapes and he hasn’t put in the head-turning drives that a rookie needs early on. Pierre Gasly has been inconsistent too but at least that inconsistency has included two very strong drives with big points (Bahrain and Monaco).

Wider theme here, if Hartley’s form does not pick up: does mastering another formula count against someone trying to make it in F1? Hartley spent years in WEC; Sebastien Bourdais, Alex Zanardi and Cristiano da Matta spent years in Champcars; Jolyon Palmer spent years in GP2. Is it better to go straight to F1, thereby picking up new, F1-specific habits straight off the bat as a youngster? Rather than picking up habits that work well in other formulae but then have to be unlearned at an older age in F1? Thoughts welcome!


#rishi I posted that the best 20 drivers are not all in F1 and got flamed by the usual suspects. But I believe that F 1 has some of the best with the rest of the grid being distorted by pay drivers and some of those on young driver programmes. Getting the best equipment either from a racing team or a rich father can flatter a driver’s raw talent. These “ other drivers”go off into various racing series but few make it back into F1. There are also those who got a shot in F1 too early and are now in “ lesser” series. Hence whilst I was not a fan of Maldenado I believe he would put Stroll in the shade but money has spoken. Would JEV now leading Formula e start to perform back in F1? We may never know but in reality we paying customers are being cheated. A bit like buying an expensive ticket to see the latest west end sensation and half of the cast are off so the understudies are filling in.


The driver market is based on some sort of temporal warp chaos theory. It just never pans out as predicted. James says that McLaren would never field two young drivers and hence a Norris / Vandoorne pairing is not on the cards. I tend to agree but then again I would never have predicted the Williams line up.

So my totally unprovable theory is:

McLaren release Norris to TR in exchange for Sainz Jr moving across from Renault who in turn make Ricciardo an offer he can not refuse. This leaves RBR with a massive gap caused by their junior team and the merry go round moves on again.

Round two.. RB promote Gasly so an improving Hartley keeps his seat whilst at Mclaren Alonso can not decide to stay or go leaving them with a surplus of talent.

Never going to happen but fun to play and I’ll post the web address for the board game soon.


What about Alonso to Renault-won a couple of WDC’s for them-factory team-close to Macca in performance-$$?

DeeAnn Hopings

Interesting how with Dr. Marko it is always that the drivers under perform. Over expectation or a misjudgment of talent is never a mistake on his part…


Listened to a “ commentator” saying as an ex F1 driver Marko knew what he was talking about when managing the driver programme.. Now I had to be honest in that I looked Marko up and 9 starts and no points in F1 is why he made no impression on me. So perhaps it is a case of “ the older i get the better i was” with him.


I think the key reluctance of Mclaren is that Toro Rosso wanted the loan deal to include the 2019 season, meanwhile Mclaren aren’t sure of their line up next year. But I still think he should finish the F2 season and try and get another title in the bag.
Maybe if Fernando and Stoffel are signed on for 2019 he could then he could be loaned to Toro Rosso next year.


If there’s any since to the story, it seems pretty obvious that McLaren are holding out for more money/better options on whatever it is that Toro Rosso is offering.


It’s Dr Helmut’s greatest pleasure in F1. Not so much the racing per se, it’s the inflicting of pain on the younger drivers of the junior team. Under the cold exterior he is breathless as he does it.


Very disappointing for Brendon Hartley but that is the old club that is Formula 1 and RBR. I wonder if Dr Marko is under a bit of pressure as the RBR talent pool seems a bit bare and Mad Max the chosen one is underperforming. Still if he is cut loose by RBR he can hold his head high as he has at least scored a point in formula which is 1 more than Dr Marko ever scored in over 2 years of f 1 racing, just saying…


I hope Mercedes do sign Alonso for next year. Given his luck it’s the only way to stop them winning the championship again!




The fact that McLaren are saying no (currently) its fairly obvious that they plan to have him in the car next year. Equally obvious is that the one most likely to make way is Fernando departing to Indycar with McLaren (probably). IF Fernando stays however then its bad news for Vandoorne.

But wait: just supposing that McLaren decided that this was too big a risk? Well, then why not lend him to Torro Rosso for the rest of the season to see how that works out and to give Norris F1 experience?

The other aspect is will the Renault upgrade this weeked give Alonso any hope for next year? Can’t see it myself.

As for Brendon Hartley: bad luck if this comes about, because he hasn’t been that far off Gasley but RBR is a tough club except it seems for Verstappen, while F1 drivers market is simply the Piranha Club. I daresay Brendon has been keeping in touch with Chip Ganassi….I think he’s much more suited to Indy.


Hard for Brendan his achievements have mostly been in sports cars and now he enters the harsh reality for the second time of Dr Helmut Marko. The difference between F1 and WEV is massive according to Mark Webber but easier to go to WEC from F1

All things happen for a reason and BH will not disappear he will be back in WEC car before long

Good luck K1W1


I hope Hartley can stay around, because I think he can do the job well, but if the TR offer was to borrow Norris for half a year, then give him back for 2019, I’m surprised Mclaren didn’t take the option. It would provide Lando with experience, without any damage to Mclaren’s cars or reputation . . . not that their rep could be much worse.

I think if Alonso wins the WEC this year, he will go Indycar full time next year, leaving Vandoorne to be flogged by Norris at Mclaren in 2019.


McLaren would not field Norris and Vsndoorbe as a line up

Very hard to imagine – would be a blow to their ‘prestige’


McWilliams ?

The seem to be following the same trajectory as Franks team …

McLarens sense of self-worth / self importance is part of their undoing…

They wouldn’t compromise on the price of the real estate on the car for sponsorship and so the car looked blank, like a team that couldn’t get sponsors… they should have covered the car in the logos of the sponsors they had so it looked like everyone wanted to be with Macca. Instead it’s turned out to be a self-fulfilling prophecy.


I totally agree. I cannot imagine Mclaren having two young guns in the team but who would be their ‘prestige’ driver alongside Norris?


I am of the view that Mclaren will never be the same without Ron Dennis, just as Man U will never be the same without Sir Alex

Therefore if I were Lando’s management, I would do everything to break the contract with Mclaren and get Lando in another team that may help him become better and find his place at the table because Mclaren of late haven’t been exactly supportive of young talent such as Perez and Mini-mag

As for the top drivers, it almost feels like Mclaren has become that team were former champions go to retire.


So we’re being set up for Mercedes to turn it down this weekend already to save PU? Ferrari takes it and are conveniently brought back into the WDC “battle”?

Give excuses early to ensure everyone knows the script, toes the li(n)e?


Thread is about Norris and Hartley…….


What’s engines got to do with this story about drivers? Please stay on topic as these engine rants do get tiresome.


If I was Toro Rosso, I’d see if Kvyat is available.


How much carnage did RBR cause with Max around both of their teams? Unbelievable collateral damage. RIC unloved. STR a mess. No one behind him worthy of a seat.

I honestly hope that RIC gets a deal elsewhere and Max has to carry all the weight himself. It’s high time he delivers according to the treatment he gets from RBR.


All going to be a bit awkward in the Torto Rosso garage this week then! You can see why McLaren knocked them back, Lando could help TR outscore them, plus it might not be the best thing to throw a young driver in at the deep end like that. If Torro Rosso realky do need another driver, I believe Claire Williams has one on her books she isn’t currently using…..


There is something about Kubica that has not been made public, something serious…


Phil, really? Well don’t keep it to yourself, let’s hear it!


do you know are are you supposing?



I thought Jos the Boss was on the payroll of RB as a talent scout? Either the cupboard is bare or he ain’t doing his job!!


Adrian, They seem to have taken their eye off the ball don’t they? Leclerc, Occon, Russell and Norris all passed them by. Gasly is on the books, but having lost Sainz and with Dan possibly going as well, that conveyor belt needs to keep moving!

I wonder how many karting and F4 races Jos has attended lately? Sounds more like a vanity title to me.


Well in that case they should give Stoffel the Toro Rosso seat and let Lando have his seat at Mclaren.


Interesting comments. According to Hartley, he ‘knows what’s in his contract’? So what is all this hoo har? Alternate facts……or what?


Contracts can be torn up and drivers can be payed off.

Happens in football all the time.


Kenneth, any contract can be fixed with a little bit of money.


Well it looks like the team have gone sour on him, the only saving grace might be that they struggle to find a suitable replacement in the short term for his seat?


looks like toro rosso are missing kvyat already.


“However, through poor fortune and poor results, he has struggled to replicate the results of team-mate Pierre Gasly, who has out-scored him by seventeen points so far this season”

Resulting in Hartley being the F1 driver most likely to be replaced.

Meanwhile, in other news…

“However, through poor fortune and poor results, he has struggled to replicate the results of team-mate Daniel Ricciardo, who has out-scored him by thirty seven points so far this season”

Resulting in Verstappen being highly sought after.

Go figure… 😐


A fair point, but in spite of the (justified) roasting he’s getting at the moment, I think it’s fair to say Verstappen has more upside than Hartley…


If I can just make a minor correction:

‘Verstappen potentially has more upside than Hartley…’

MV’s not showing a lot of upside this season and with his well publicised response to criticism, he’s not likely to show much any time soon.


Fair to say and I’m not going to argue that Hartley is on the same level as Verstappen (when Verstappen is at his best that is), but give the guy credit – At least he’s not out there binning it every two weeks.


Serves no other purpose than upsetting both Hartley and Norris mid season.

Was never going to happen anyway unless Mclaren were in some way desperate to please Red Bull.

Lucky for max there was no max2 to step into his seat and free him up.


More recent news is the sorta quote: “Red Bull driver Max Verstappen says he “might headbutt someone” if he continues to be asked about his series of crashes and mistakes.”

Might be an interesting article to address the question: Any chance there might be a change in attitude to help things along a little ?”

Tornillo Amarillo

Norris is destined for a Formula One drive in 2019?

Yes at McLaren, replacing either driver.

Alonso could retire, if not, Norris would replace Vandoorne.

Then, Vandoorne could go to Renault if Sainz goes to Red Bull, or to a different team.

Why Toro Rosso doesn’t call the Honda-friendly-aged-38 Jason Button now?


Hartley should definitely be kept on. He has the speed and huge racing experience. Why do they send him out for qualifying at the last moment and then miss out through incidences on the track. Give him the laps to relax and bed-in.

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