Despite the fact that the move is now all but certain, McLaren have refused to comment on the imminent signing of Oscar Piastri.
It has been a far from quiet summer break for the British team after Sebastian Vettel’s decision to retire sparked silly season into life, with them at the centre of the storm.
When Fernando Alonso announced he was to replace Vettel at Aston Martin, Alpine intended to replace the Spaniard with Piastri, leading to the revelation that he had signed a pre-contract with McLaren to drive for them next year.
That made it clear they were planning to get rid of Daniel Ricciardo a year early, and they’ve now announced the Aussie’s departure.
However, despite the fact that it’s widely known Piastri will replace his compatriot, Zak Brown and Andreas Seidl aren’t willing to speak about it.
“Today is about Daniel,” McLaren CEO Brown said on Wednesday.
“We will leave the comments and speculation about who will be next to Lando next year to one side.
“I imagine that everyone wants to understand our plans, but we will announce them in due course.”
Seidl took a similar approach, claiming he wanted the focus to be on the departing Ricciardo for the time being.
“I will not take part in any speculation. The subject of the day is Daniel and nothing else,” said the team principal.
The prospect of Norris and Piastri being team-mates is an exciting one, with Norris one of the best young drivers on the current F1 grid and Piastri widely seen as the biggest talent outside of it.
The hope is that, unlike Ricciardo, he’ll be able to perform as well as Norris, with the former’s inability to do so costing them in the Constructors’ Championship.
If the Aussie does live up to expectations though, that could cause some problems for the team if a fiery intra-team battle emerges between the two.
Brown isn’t worried about such a scenario though, pointing to how having two closely matched drivers hasn’t been a problem for Mercedes or Ferrari this season.
“Lando is definitely a superstar in our sport,” Brown said.
“But I see no reason why McLaren can’t have two drivers who are on an equal footing – as is the case with Lewis Hamilton and George Russell at Mercedes. Or with Carlos Sainz and Charles Leclerc at Ferrari.”