McLaren has rejected a mid-season approach from Toro Rosso to field its current reserve driver Lando Norris in Formula 1 this year, understood to be in place of the struggling Brendon Hartley.

Two-time Le Mans winner Hartley was a surprise debutant for Toro Rosso at last year’s United States Grand Prix following Carlos Sainz Jr.’s early move to Renault, with the New Zealander being signed for 2018 alongside Pierre Gasly.

While Gasly has been able to match the second-best result in Toro Rosso’s history by finishing fourth in Bahrain, as well as finishing seventh last time out in Monaco, Hartley has just a single point to his name so far this season, picked up in Baku.

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Hartley said in Monaco he was “surprised” about speculation about his future given his existing contract, but it has now emerged that Toro Rosso made a move for current Formula 2 driver Norris to act as a mid-season replacement.

Following initial reports from BBC Sport and Press Association on Wednesday that Toro Rosso had made the approach, McLaren responded to Crash.net’s request for comment by saying: “We’re not surprised other teams approach our drivers. They clearly believe they are as talented as we do.”

A source has also indicated to Crash.net that any deal to give Norris his F1 debut with Toro Rosso midway through the season is not going to happen, allowing him to keep his attention on F2, where he leads the drivers' championship by 27 points after four rounds.

The British youngster won last year’s FIA European F3 title after joining McLaren’s junior programme at the start of 2017, and has impressed in his three F1 test appearances to date.

However, Norris has always stressed he is not looking to rush his rise to F1, matching McLaren’s own desire to keep him focused on his existing commitments.

"I’m flattered by the stories but I’m focussed on F2 and committed to McLaren," Norris said via a spokesperson in the wake of the reports on Wednesday.

"I leave this sort of thing to my management."

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