Column | Did Lando Norris sign his extension with McLaren too soon?

16-06-2021 13:00
Column
Column | Did Lando Norris sign his extension with McLaren too soon?

Lando Norris’ season couldn’t have started off any better. The young Brit is the only driver left on the grid to score a point in all six Grand Prix’s so far this season and currently sits in fourth place in the Drivers’ Standings, only three behind Sergio Perez in third. He recently stole the headlines by signing a contract extension with McLaren which will see him stay with the British team until at least 2023. 

However, this has had some questions be raised from it, with many fans questioning whether or not the deal between Norris and McLaren has come about too soon. The 21-year-old is one of the future stars of Formula One and if he was able to continue his strong start to the season, could have found himself amongst the contenders for the Mercedes seat next season.

Has Lando Norris committed his future to McLaren too soon?

Mercedes seat potentially on offer?

66 points in six races is no mean feat and when you’re Lando Norris it just emphasises your stardom. Two podiums to his name already this year and more are definitely on the way to prove to many that he has to be considered amongst the top drivers on the grid and in my opinion can easily be labelled alongside George Russell as the two drivers clearly looking to follow in Lewis Hamilton’s footsteps.

With the rumours of Valtteri Bottas being all-but-out of his Mercedes seat next season, it leaves thoughts in many minds of who will replace him. The first name that instantly springs to mind is Russell, however, could Norris have been a name on Toto Wolff’s mind if he hadn’t resigned with McLaren?

It could have easily been an option for Mercedes to bring in a prominent points scorer to be paired alongside Hamilton for another season but, in turn, this could cause Russell’s development to be halted once again and could become an issue for the German team in the future. Russell proved last season that he could easily compete in the W12 from the get-go, yet Norris could probably do the same.

Norris has only improved since entering F1 three years ago. He scored 49 points in his rookie year, with sixth-place finishes in Bahrain and Austria being the best the Bristolian could achieve. The following season saw the young Brit claim his first podium and he finished the season on 97 points. Now only six races into a 23 race season, Norris already has 66 points and has finished inside the top five in five of these, missing out in only Barcelona. This just proves the talent that is on offer.

However, I do believe that Mercedes would only have come calling for Norris if no deal could be struck with Russell. The Williams driver is Mercedes ‘star boy’ and will no doubt be one of the first choices, if possible, for the seat next to Hamilton next season, thus pushing Norris away and making the deal with McLaren look more feasible for the Briton’s future in the sport.

Can McLaren compete for a Formula 1 Championship with Norris?

As mentioned prior, Norris’ improvement over his three competitive years in F1 cannot be played down. This is also the same with the improvement and success we’ve seen from McLaren. The last championship for the Papaya and Blue team came in 2008 when Hamilton claimed victory over the rest of the grid. Their strong form then continued until 2012 where they finished third but after that season, a place in the top three was hard to come by.

Seven years passed before the British team finished in the top three again. Two fifth-place finishes, followed by back-to-back ninth and sixth-place finishes and then finally a fourth-place finish in Norris’ rookie season was the turning point.

Last season was the first successful season for McLaren in eight seasons and it was down to Carlos Sainz and Norris at the helm of things. Despite only standing on the podium a single time each, they helped McLaren beat out Ferrari and Racing Point to claim third place. If Norris and his teammate Daniel Ricciardo are able to continue or even improve on their start to the season, then they will undoubtedly have a better season than last year.

This will boost Norris’ chances of becoming a champion with the British team. With the new rules and regulations coming in next season, if McLaren are able to continue their growth as a team, they can jump on other teams struggles and failures next year. This, in turn, could vault Norris forward to competing at the top of the Drivers’ Championship and can prove to us that this resigning was the right move.

On the other hand, it could go the complete opposite way. We don’t know how the next few seasons will play out. In my opinion, the deal seemed to be struck too early but if Norris and McLaren are able to continue their impressive form that we’ve witnessed at the start of this season, then Zak Brown has worked wonders.

Do you think it was the right time for Lando Norris to resign with McLaren? Or was it too early considering his start to the season? Let us know your thoughts in the comments!

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