McLaren executive director Zak Brown has two racing helmets on a display cabinet in his office, one in the colours of two-times Formula One world champion Fernando Alonso and the other belonging to ‘Lando‘ – Reports Reuters LONDON 09/06/2017
The helmets point to both present and future — Alonso the team’s big name driver who may not stay beyond this season, and Lando Norris, the British 17-year-old being groomed for great things.
Earlier this week I reported Lando’s Test at McLaren, and now Zak has gone a stage further into showing a definite intention to offer him a drive, and to keep Alonso if possible. This could be a long term plan; he stated he was keen not to use him “too early”. My focus however is turning from what has been said, to what statements are noticeable by their absence… a lack of any official comments regarding Stoffel Vandoornes’ future.
“Certainly Lando is a world champion of the future with us,”
“He’s still young and you can ruin a driver by putting him in too early. But do I anticipate Lando being in a McLaren, winning races and the championship? That’s the plan,”
…the American told Reuters before heading off Canada for this weekend’s grand prix.
On the team’s current form, that is very much a long-term plan as Norris seeks to win the European Formula Three championship.
Honda-powered McLaren are the only team not to have scored a point so far this season and the former champions have not won a grand prix since 2012.
Reuters and Brown’s attention inevitably changed towards Alonso, Brown commenting:
“I think he loves the McLaren environment, I think there’s no team he’d rather race for more than McLaren. But he wants to race at the front of the field. And I get it,” said Brown.
“There’s zero tension between Fernando Alonso and McLaren, the relationship has never been healthier. We’re frustrated together.
“We’ve been clear that we want him to stay and he’s been clear he wants to stay, but we need a better race car so that’s where our attention is on.”