Lando Norris claims he rejected Red Bull

Lando Norris is contracted to McLaren until the end of 2025, after signing an extension at the start of 2022.

2022 has been a challenging and somewhat disappointing year for Lando Norris and McLaren, as the British side have taken a step backwards following a few years of instrumental progress.

Throughout 2020 and 2021, it was a regular sight to see the Woking-based team battling with the usual leading trio, with the side having even claimed a victory last year.

Daniel Ricciardo’s victory at the Italian Grand Prix last year ensured that McLaren were the only team in 2021 to achieve a one-two finish, as Lando Norris crossed the line right behind the Australian driver.

Norris came agonisingly close himself to what would’ve been his first F1 victory; however, a bad call at the Russian Grand Prix saw the Brit suffer from the late downpour.

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The 22-year-old would’ve been hoping for more opportunities at podiums and potentially victories this season, but nothing of the sort has happened.

Staggeringly, Norris’ podium at the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix, which occurred at the start of the year, makes him the only non-frontrunning driver to have stood on the podium this year, with 55 out of the 56 podium places on offer so far this year having been claimed by Red Bull, Ferrari and Mercedes.

McLaren have found themselves battling for fourth in the Constructors’ Championship this season with Alpine; however, fifth is looking like the realistic outcome.

This is a significant step backwards for the British side, who have seemingly struggled to adapt to the new aerodynamic regulations.

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Despite the struggles, Norris isn’t regretting signing his contract extension with the side, which he agreed to at the start of the year.

Norris will remain at McLaren until at least the end of 2025; however, he did hold talks with Red Bull prior to announcing his contract extension.

“Of course there are conversations with other people from time to time,” Norris told Auto Motor und Sport.

“You always ask yourself: what is best for my career? After all, I want to win and win world championships. There have been talks with Red Bull.

“They are a team that has been in the top three for years. But that just goes to show how much confidence I have in McLaren. Although there were talks, I felt McLaren was better for me to achieve my goals.

It is truly unbelievable that Norris is the only non-frontrunning driver to have claimed a podium this season, with the Brit comfortably being ‘best of the rest’ this year.

Imola has really been his only chance of a podium this season, with the MCL36 having been unable to compete with the top teams for the rest of the year.

The Quadrant founder is proud to be the only midfield driver to have claimed a rostrum this season, with it being something that makes him “happy”.

“Thinking about it makes me happy,” said Norris.

“Especially the way I achieved it. In difficult conditions with a great qualifying, in a car that was at most the fifth or sixth fastest. I feel like I’ll get on the podium as soon as I get a chance, whether it’s this season or the last few. But in the back of my head I’d like to stand there more often.”

Despite battling for seventh more often than a top five, the McLaren star still thinks he’s had an excellent season.

Norris was asked by AMuS to rate his 2022 performance out of 10, with his answer perhaps being surprising to some given the struggles the team has faced this year.

“8.9,” Norris revealed.

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“When I say nine, it sounds too confident. But like I said before. As soon as I had a chance to score good points, I was there. If we had a chance of Q3 in qualifying, I was in. Except Barcelona. That was my only qualifying session with a mistake.

“They cancelled my lap because of track limits. But it had never existed in this curve before. I was also ill there. Otherwise, I never made a big mistake that threw me out of Q1 or Q2. Maybe minor mistakes that cost you one or two positions.

“I didn’t do anything wrong in the race either, which cost me five places or so. I have the feeling that with my performances I help the team to fight against Alpine at all.”