McLaren chief Zak Brown says the team risked losing out on Lando Morris if they had not signed him. It was confirmed on Monday that the 18-year-old will drive for McLaren next year alongside Carlos Sainz Jr and he comes with some pedigree, having won titles at every junior level.
Norris has been nutured by the Woking-based team but his talent was hardly a secret, with Toro Rosso approaching McLaren earlier this year about the potential of taking him as a mid-season replacement for Brendon Hartley.
Brown says the team felt the time was right to promote the Brit to the top level despite his age, especially as one of their rivals may have swooped if he had missed out on a 2019 seat with his current employers.
“We knew that he would have been snapped up by another team, but ultimately we were always on an ‘around the summer break’ timeline,” Brown explained.
“We weren’t pressured by that or didn’t make a decision driven by that, but we’re fully aware that if he wasn’t going to be driving for us next year he would be driving for someone else.
“I assume it would have been Toro Rosso. Based on the phone calls I got, I think there was more than one team interested in him.”