McLaren refuse Toro Rosso offer
Toro Rosso wanted Englishman Lando Norris to replace Brendon Hartley in their junior team for the rest of the year. However, McLaren preferred to keep the 18-year old on his current trajectory.
Norris is one of the brightest rising stars in motorsport. He won last year’s European Formula 3 championship, and is currently leading the F2 championship. Norris is widely regarded as one of Britain’s hottest properties
Toro Rosso refused to comment, but a McLaren spokesman said: “We are not surprised that other teams approach our drivers. They clearly believe they are as talented as we do.”
Pressure and speculation on Brendo Hartley’s Toro Rosso future is mounting. The Red Bull Junior Team had wished to sign the 18-year-old Formula 2 championship leader to replace the under-pressure Brendon Hartley. What the team does now is unclear, stick with a driver fully aware of his team exploring its options or look elsewhere.
The 36-year-old Spaniard has said he is not yet decided to whether he will remain in F1 next season. Although there are potentially open seats at all three leading teams in F1 – Mercedes, Ferrari and Red Bull – none are believed to be interested in signing Alonso, even though he is still regarded as one of the very best drivers on the grid.
With Alonso still coy on his long-term future, as yet unsigned beyond this season and still chasing the triple crown, McLaren could be expecting to use the talents of Norris sooner than expected – in 2019. Should Alonso tick the second of the three triple crown boxes later this month in June at Le Mans, his desire to match Graham Hill’s feat will only amplify.
Alonso will race again for Toyota at Le Mans next year, when the classic event is the final event of the championship that started in Spa last month. If Alonso decides to stay in F1, there is a very real possibility that Norris could be promoted as his teammate in 2019.
Nonetheless, McLaren’s rejection of Red Bull’s initial approach does not necessarily mean the end of Toro Rosso’s bid to grab Norris. Red Bull could come back with a different offer that is more amenable to McLaren.