British racing star Lando Norris declared his intention to “fight for race wins and championships” after agreeing a new long-term contract with Formula 1 employers McLaren
McLaren have received a boost ahead of their 2022 Formula 1 campaign after announcing on Wednesday that star talent Lando Norris has signed a new long-term contract.
The new deal will keep 22-year-old Norris with the Woking-based outfit until the end of 2025, an agreement he believes sends “a very strong message” regarding McLaren’s title ambitions for the coming seasons.
Norris was linked as a potential successor to Valtteri Bottas at Mercedes before the F1 giants recruited George Russell from Williams.
The 2021 F1 campaign was Norris’ most successful to date thus far, managing three third-place finishes and a second-place podium at the Italian Grand Prix.
“We know it is not going be quick – there are things we need to improve on to guarantee we can fight for race wins and championships,” he said after the new contract was confirmed.
“But I know that’s in the pipeline and it’s what I’m confident of achieving.”
The statement is particularly significant considering it’s believed a number of desirable driving positions in F1 are due to become available in the next few seasons.
Seven-time world champion Lewis Hamilton will see his Mercedes deal expire at the end of the 2023 season, although the Briton’s participation this term has even been in doubt. But he now looks to have put an end to that talk.
Ferrari’s Carlos Sainz, meanwhile, is contracted until the end of this year, and team-mate Charles Leclerc could move on when his own deal is due to expire in 2024.
Norris confirmed there were talks held with outside teams before his decision to remain with McLaren, having first joined as a junior driver in 2017.
“There were little chats here and there but that’s all,” he said before explaining “nothing went far.”
Last season’s Italian Grand Prix ended in a McLaren one-two with Daniel Ricciardo setting the pace, the team’s first F1 race victory since 2012.
Norris confirmed his new contract came complete with a pay rise and added the money side of things “always helps,” though he assured it wasn’t his primary motivator for extending: “My happiness comes above all and that is the most important thing.”
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Team principal Andreas Seidl referred to the fact there is no “get-out clause” in the new deal and said: “It is an important message from our side that we can get there in these next four years.
“Our ambition is to win titles but we still have a few building blocks and ambitious targets before we can get there. But to achieve those targets you need the best drivers, the best guys in the paddock. The sport is complex and consistency is important. Especially if you have the right guys.
“We have a strong belief in the talent of Lando and we believe he will be a key element in achieving these targets we have, but at the same time it is a great sign for everyone in the team.”
The 2022 season begins with the Bahrain Grand Prix on March 20, where McLaren will hope for an improved start in their hunt for the title as F1 introduces a new set of rules this year.