Zak Brown breaks silence on Lando Norris claim about being able to quit McLaren

McLaren and Lando Norris have struggled with performance in 2023, sitting last in the Constructors’ standings after two races.

McLaren’s chief executive Zak Brown has played down speculation about the future of British-Belgian driver Lando Norris after two tough races in Bahrain and Saudi Arabia.

With back-to-back 17th place finishes, this is the worst start to a season Lando Norris has experienced since he joined Formula 1, raising questions about how long he’ll stay with the Woking-based team.

Norris has been linked with a move to a number of top teams, including Mercedes and Red Bull if a seat opens up. 

The 23-year-old is currently locked into a contract with McLaren until the end of the 2025 season, having signed a contract extension in February 2022.

READ: Oscar Piastri blamed for Lando Norris’ poor start to 2023

Dismissing the rumours swirling around Norris, Brown claimed that the driver is not looking to leave, instead focusing on working with the team to build a “championship-winning car” in the next two years.

“He has zero exit clauses,” Brown categorically told Sky Sports F1 before the Australian Grand Prix.

“He has got a contract with us and, most importantly, he is very happy here and he sees the progress that we are making, and he is a team player.”

“Ultimately, when his contract is next up, if we are not performing and he doesn’t feel he can win races and can compete for the championship, then I think anybody, driver or team member for that matter [would be considering leaving].

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“Contracts aside, it is about that he is in a happy environment, he is along for the journey, and we have got some time to prove to him that we are going to give him a car capable of winning.

“Right now it is pretty easy but if we are sitting here in two years’ time and his contract is nearing the end, then it is a different situation if we are not performing and I would understand him going ‘I need to get into a winning race car’,” Brown added. 

READ: Oscar Piastri makes ‘crazy’ prediction about 2023 Australian Grand Prix

Norris has yet to secure his first victory in Formula 1, having come close in Sochi 2021.

After claiming pole, Norris was cruising around the track when, with three laps to go, he slid off the track having tried to remain on dry tracks amid heavy rain.

Hamilton, who had pitted for intermediate tyres, raced past Norris on lap 51 of 53, ultimately taking his 100th Grand Prix victory, while Norris ended in seventh.