McLaren say they will announce their driver line-up for the 2019 season in September but remain coy on Lando Norris’ chances. The Woking-based outfit have already confirmed Carlos Sainz Jr will be joining the team as the direct replacement for Fernando Alonso, who has announced 2018 will be his last year in Formula 1.
Alonso’s current team mate, Stoffel Vandoorne, is thought to be under pressure to retain his position with several names having been mentioned in connection with the Belgian’s seat.
McLaren have now set themselves a deadline of the end of September to confirm who will be partnering Sainz with reserve driver Norris thought to be under consideration for a promotion.
The 18-year-old Brit replaced Vandoorne for first practice ahead of last week’s Belgian Grand Prix, and will again drive for McLaren on Friday for practice for Sunday’s Italian Grand Prix.
Sporting director Gil de Ferran says Norris’ run outs in Vandoorne’s car are more to do with aiding his development, denying they are acting as his audition for a drive next season.
“You called it assessment, I call it development,” de Ferran told Planet F1.”It’s very hard to assess a driver in the strength of one free practice or one session or one qualifying session.
“I think you need to step back and take a wider view. That’s been the same for everyone.
“I think these free practice sessions are really more about giving Lando exposure and help him along the development plan.”