McLaren break silence on risk of Lando Norris joining Audi or Red Bull

Lando Norris has been linked several times with a switch to Red Bull, with the Austrians having taken a liking to the Brit.

McLaren Racing CEO Zak Brown isn’t “worried” yet about potentially losing star driver Lando Norris, who is reportedly on Audi’s radar for 2026.

A move to Audi in 2026 would see the British driver follow former McLaren team principal Andreas Seidl, who was announced last week as the new CEO of the Sauber Group, who are, of course, partnering Audi from 2026.

It’s been a challenging and frustrating year for Norris, who was unable to challenge for top fives and podiums consistently as a result of the team simply not supplying a good enough car.

Norris claimed just one podium in 2022, which came early on in the season at the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix.

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He was once again, though, a consistent points finisher and claimed a points finish at 17 of the 22 completed races in 2022.

With that in mind, he comfortably claimed the ‘best of the rest’ spot in the Drivers’ Championship; however, Norris will understandably want more than P7.

Red Bull have also been linked to Norris this season, highlighting that the 23-year-old is rated very highly amongst the paddock.

For the time being, though, Brown isn’t thinking about losing his star driver, who is contracted until the end of 2025.

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“No, because I’m convinced we’re going to give him a winning car,” Brown said, when asked if he’s worried about losing the Quadrant founder.

“We have a long-term contract with him. I think he feels very comfortable within the team.

“Other than obviously the pressure we put on ourselves, because we don’t want to just give him a winning car, we want to give us a winning car. So, I think we’ve got a runway to get there.

“He knows the journey we’re on. He has bought into the journey that we’re on, and I think it’d be early to be worried about it.”

There is absolutely no doubt that Norris is an exceptional talent and one who could easily challenge the leaders if given the tools to do so.

Brown contrasted “mega” Norris to Jan Magnussen and Jos Verstappen, two excellent drivers who couldn’t make it work at the pinnacle of motorsport.

“Every step along the way, he gave you a reason to believe the next step he was going to be great,” added Brown.

“But we’ve seen drivers that have been great along the way and then, when they get to the top, you don’t know if it was them or the situation: Jan Magnussen right? He was mega in everything and then didn’t quite work in F1. Jos Verstappen was often mega in everything, it didn’t quite work in F1.

“Lando was mega in everything. And it has worked in F1. In fact, what I think I’m happiest to see is not just pure pace, but how few mistakes he makes, and how strong his racecraft is.

“Looking at Lando, year one. He had the pace, but probably didn’t have his elbows out enough. And now he’s fair, but he’s a tough character when you are racing.”

2023 will see Norris against perhaps his toughest team-mate so far, as the Brit will be joined by 2021 F2 World Champion Oscar Piastri.

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Piastri is tipped by many as a future World Champion, with Brown expecting the Australian “to be close” to the team’s current star.

“I think Lando is one of the fastest drivers on the grid and I expect Oscar to be close,” he explained.

“I expect Oscar to have some opportunities to beat him and vice versa. And that’s obviously what you want, right? It’s two drivers right next to each other and reversing the order.”