2016 NEC Champion Lando Norris earns McLaren Formula 1 drive

2016 Formula Renault Northern European Cup (NEC) Champion Lando Norris has been promoted to a race seat with McLaren F1 Team, becoming the latest in an established line of graduates to reach Formula 1.

He will partner Carlos Sainz Jnr – another former NEC winner back in 2011 – after dovetailing an official Test and Reserve Driver role for the Woking-based outfit alongside his title-contending efforts in the FIA Formula 2 Championship this season.

The deal marks the end of a meteoric rise through the junior categories for the 18-year old, with a CV that also boasts titles in MSA Formula (now British F4), Formula Renault Eurocup and the FIA European F3 Championship.

Norris took six race victories, ten pole positions and eleven podium finishes for Josef Kaufmann Racing en route to his NEC title, in a season that underlined his abilities on the international stage.

His first taste of Grand Prix action will come in Melbourne, Australia, at Albert Park in the Spring, with a provisional date set for 15-17th March, 2019.

Everyone associated with the Formula Renault NEC would like to wish Lando the best in the next stage of his motorsport journey.

“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,” Norris told the official McLaren website.

“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.”