McLaren deny Lewis Hamilton to Ferrari forced them into early Lando Norris deal

McLaren CEO Zak Brown has dismissed suggestions that murmurings of Lewis Hamilton's move to Ferrari influenced how quickly they handed Lando Norris a new F1 contract.

Third placed Lewis Hamilton (GBR) Mercedes AMG F1 in parc ferme with second placed Lando Norris (GBR) McLaren. Formula 1
Third placed Lewis Hamilton (GBR) Mercedes AMG F1 in parc ferme with…

McLaren CEO Zak Brown has downplayed suggestions that Lewis Hamilton’s move to Ferrari played a factor in Lando Norris’ latest F1 contract extension at the start of this year.

Norris signed a new multi-year McLaren deal, with the team announcing it just one week before Hamilton’s bombshell switch to Ferrari was revealed.

Many have suggested that Norris’ contract extension was wrapped up sooner to ensure the British driver was taken off the driver market, ensuring Mercedes could not sign him as a possible Hamilton replacement.

It means McLaren have Norris and Oscar Piastri contracted until the end of 2026, giving the Woking outfit one of the most exciting line ups on the grid.

Speaking after the official launch of McLaren’s 2024 F1 challenger, Brown told Sky Sports News that Hamilton’s Ferrari move played no role in Norris’ new deal.

“We were aware that there was potentially some movement, but that didn’t really have anything to do with Lando,” Brown said. “We’d signed him up. Previously, we’re just waiting for him to get back to actually make the announcement.

“But we knew that Lando and of course Oscar, but we had Oscar signed up for a while, both are hot properties.

“So it was less about knowing specifically what was going on with Lewis and Ferrari and Mercedes as much as knowing Lando is top of everybody’s list and ours included.”

(L to R): Lando Norris (GBR) McLaren and Oscar Piastri (AUS) McLaren at a team photograph. Formula 1 World Championship,
(L to R): Lando Norris (GBR) McLaren and Oscar Piastri (AUS) McLaren at a…

After a poor start, McLaren enjoyed a remarkable resurgence in the second half of 2023, ultimately finishing fourth in the constructors’ championship.

Particularly at high-speed circuits such as Silverstone, Suzuka and Losail, McLaren could challenge Red Bull on outright pace.

Brown believes Norris’ confidence in McLaren, and the progress they’ve shown, is the reason he wanted to commit his future.

“We had a really strong second half of the year, and I think Lando has got the same confidence we do in the team and belief in ourselves. And so it was great to get him signed up,” he added.

“And I think, what I’ve really focused on is bringing stability to the team.

“So with our new hires, or your existing team, Andrea [Stella], technology infrastructure, we’re just trying to keep our head down, be focused, and there’s some drama going on in the sport at the moment we don’t want to be part of.”

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