McLaren has confirmed junior driver Lando Norris is set to replace Stoffel Vandoorne for the opening practice session of the Italian Grand Prix at Monza next Friday following his maiden Formula 1 grand prix weekend appearance at Spa this week.

Norris, 18, has been part of McLaren's junior programme since the start of 2016, and is in the running for a race seat next year alongside Carlos Sainz Jr.

The Briton has been racing in Formula 2 throughout this year, but was called up to make his maiden F1 race weekend appearance ahead of the Belgian Grand Prix, deputising for Fernando Alonso in the first practice session. It marked the first time since 2005 McLaren had entered anyone other than its race drivers to a weekend session.

McLaren sporting director Gil de Ferran said he was impressed by Norris when asked by Crash.net about his practice display, and confirmed the youngster would be returning at Monza in place of Alonso's teammate, Vandoorne.

"He did a great job actually," de Ferran said. "One thing he certainly has is he adapts himself very quickly to any new situation. I've seen that on the tests that he had and the same thing happened here.

"As part of his development, we wanted to bring him here because of different downforce level, a lot more cars on the track, a lot of track evolution and wanted to give him that experience. That was the same thing. He came up to speed very quickly and did a fine job for us, didn't make any mistakes. He was absolutely fine.

"He will be in Monza in FP1 as we continue to help him develop his skills."

While Norris is at present due to step in to Vandoorne's seat for Monza, paddock speculation suggests McLaren could be due to draft in current Force India driver Esteban Ocon to its team in the near future, with de Ferran not denying the Frenchman had undergone a seat fitting. A team spokesman stressed it "did not comment on driver matters," though.

De Ferran was uneasy to consider Norris' practice running as an assessment ahead of a possible race drive in 2019, explaining how it was chiefly about continuing his development.

"It's very hard to assess a driver in the strength of one free practice or one session or one qualifying session. I think you need to step back and take a wider view," de Ferran said.

"That's been the same for everyone. I think these free practice sessions are really more about giving Lando exposure and help him along the development plan."