Zak Brown says the hype around Lando Norris is real

Lando Norris was the best of the rest driver with a seventh-place finish in 2022.

The term ‘franchise player’ is most commonly found in American sports, used to describe the best player in the team that the project and brand is built around.

For example in the NBA, the Milwaukee Bucks see previous MVP winner Giannis Antetokounmpo as their franchise player, while in the LA Galaxy in the MLS have previously used Zlatan Ibrahimović and David Beckham as the flagship for their brand.

American CEO of McLaren Zak Brown has now used the term to describe 23-year-old Lando Norris, who was the only driver outside of Mercedes, Red Bull and Ferrari to score a podium last season.

“Lando is a franchise driver,” Brown told ESPN.

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“Lando is one of those guys if we put everyone in a dirt buggy and we put all the F1 drivers in a race, he’d be at the front because he’s got that kind of natural talent.

“He’s a total star. And he’s pushing us.”

The McLaren CEO has claimed that Norris has improved dramatically since his debut season with the team, with the Brit being impressive all the way from qualifying to the end of the Grand Prix.

When asked if he believes Norris is one of the best drivers on the current grid, Brown replied “definitely”.

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“Unbelievably fast. He pulls it out in qualifying all the time. He can put a lap together. He rarely makes mistakes – when he does they’re very small. It’s, he missed the apex, he locked a brake, but you don’t see him sticking it in the fence.

“His race craft is really strong now. If I look at year one, he was a little too polite on track at times. Now he’s someone you can race hard with and he’ll race you hard, he’s clean but he’s hard, he gets his elbows out.

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“He can manage tyres very well. I think he is as good as anyone on the grid.”

Norris has been tipped as a future world champion by many and McLaren will be pleased to hear his recent comments, where the Brit suggested that he was happy to wait a couple of seasons to challenge for the title with McLaren.

With more and more technology slowly becoming available to the team, Zak Brown has suggested that in two or three years’ time, McLaren could return to winning ways.