Ex-F1 champion admits Lando Norris shock

Lando Norris' lucrative contract with McLaren is set to expire at the end of 2025, right before the new engine regulations are introduced.

2009 Formula 1 World Champion Jenson Button has questioned if Lando Norris made the right choice by signing a long-term deal with McLaren at the start of last season, given that the Woking-based outfit can’t offer him a “winning car”.

Norris signed a lucrative contract early in 2022 to keep him at McLaren until the end of 2025, right before the new engine regulations are introduced.

For a driver to sign a deal as long as Norris’ is somewhat rare nowadays, unless it’s a driver at a leading team.

To sign a long-term deal with a midfield side can be seen as a bit of a gamble, given that there is no certainty that the team in question will develop into a leading team.

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Perhaps McLaren’s impressive 2021 campaign is what swayed the 23-year-old into extending his stay with the British side, given that he claimed four podiums.

Last season, though, wasn’t great for McLaren, as they slipped to fifth in the Constructors’ Championship.

With all of that in mind, Button is “surprised” that Norris agreed to such a long deal, with the former McLaren driver believing that Norris is in need of a “winning car”.

“I was surprised when he signed a long-term deal,” Button told Sky Sports.  

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“Because in this sport, you don’t know who’s at the front and you need to be in a winning car. Your talent is not enough to bring a car to the front. 

“You know, you can help them develop, but you need to be in a competitive car that can win races and McLaren haven’t given them that.  

“They’re doing well, but at this point in his career, he needs to be in a winning car. So see what happens over the next couple of years, I really do hope that teams like McLaren, Alpine and Aston Martin will be closer to the top three and even challenging.

“That was the whole idea with the budget cap, and also the wind tunnel time that the top teams get a lot less when they perform well in a season for the next year.  

“So hopefully we’re going to start seeing benefits from that in ‘23, ‘24 I think we’ll see it even more so.”

2023 is going to be a challenging year for Norris, where he’ll perhaps feel more pressure than ever before, given that he’s been joined by 2021 F2 World Champion Oscar Piastri.

Piastri has been tipped as the next big thing at the pinnacle of motorsport, meaning that Norris can’t afford to take his eye off the ball.

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“He [Norris] got a lot of time on his hands,” Button said.

“He’s still young Lando, very quick, new team-mate in [Oscar] Piastri, who again is very talented.

“[It] puts a lot of pressure on both of them, you know, with Piastri coming into Formula 1 and jumping straight in a relatively competitive car.”