[McLaren: Car progress best way to stop F1 rivals poaching Norris
The Woking-based squad announced this week that it has extended Oscar Piastri’s deal until the end of 2026, which means attention has now shifted to the future of its other driver Norris, whose deal runs until 2025.
But with Norris having already emerged as a potential target of Ferrari, Aston Martin and Red Bull, McLaren knows it will have a fight on its hands to keep the Briton.
Speaking at the Japanese Grand Prix, McLaren team principal Andrea Stella said the best way the outfit can convince Norris to remain on board is for it to live up to the high expectations it is setting itself over the next few years.
“We’re certainly having conversations with Lando,” said Stella. “They are good conversations; we are happy with how these conversations are going.
“In terms of getting the vote of confidence, we go back to the facts. Certainly, we have expressed our love, love in terms of the human element, and also you want mates to be with you in the journey, especially when the journey is so tough.
“But you also need to talk about facts: like what’s the foundation for the future, and why you can give us your vote of confidence? So, with Lando we are doing exactly the same, trying to prove as much as possible on track.
“That is what we say. He realises and [we are] trying to create a sense of: this is going to continue over the coming years.”
Stella said he would not feel comfortable trying to convince a driver to stay by making outlandish promises that could not be delivered.
“I would be in discomfort myself, having a conversation with a driver, where I’m trying to persuade him playing cards that I don’t have in my hands,” he said.
Lando Norris, McLaren, 2nd position, Oscar Piastri, McLaren, Zak Brown, CEO, McLaren Racing, Andrea Stella, Team Principal, McLaren, the McLaren team celebrate after the race
Photo by: Andy Hone / Motorsport Images
“I don’t want to find myself in a situation where a driver said, ‘Hey, you said this would have happened and it is not happening.’ I don’t want to be in this position.
“So, my conversations, Zak’s [Brown] conversations, they are genuine assessments of facts to the best of our knowledge.
“We don’t need to buy people in. We want people to give us the vote of confidence, stay with us, and genuinely, truly believe in the journey together with McLaren.”
One of the factors that will also be critical to Norris’s future stay at McLaren will be its engine choice for 2026, as new engine regulations come in.
McLaren has been weighing up its options about whether to stick with current partner Mercedes or switch manufacturers.
Stella said that the 2026 power unit has been a factor in the Piastri contract too, but said things had moved forward because McLaren was closing in on what it wanted to do.
“2026 was part of the [Piastri] discussions but it wasn’t a difficult discussion,” he explained.
“The main thing we could present ultimately is facts, and the facts were what the team has been capable of recently.
“Even though this conversation happened actually some time ago, already we had not only seen the improvements on track, but we had also seen that the developments kept being good, which is what led to the Singapore upgrade, and also what seems to lead onto next year’s car, which in the background seems promising.
“The 2026 confirmation of the power unit is quite advanced also. We are very happy with the direction the conversations for 2026 have taken. I think this is making sense for us and this was making sense for Oscar as well. And I would say it was an easy decision from both sides.”
Oscar Piastri, McLaren MCL60, Alex Albon, Williams FW45
Photo by: Mark Sutton / Motorsport Images
McLaren said the decision to extend Piastri’s contract until 2026 became obvious quite early in the season once the Australian’s qualities had shone through.
“The agreement was found pretty early on,” he said. “Because what we needed to assess, it became clear and apparent to us very soon. And I’m happy to say that the same was on Oscar’s side.
“So, it was recognised by both parties that this is the collaboration that should lead both parties from a team point of view, and from a driver point of view, into the future.”