McLaren team principal Andrea Stella says Lando Norris stands among the world champions he has worked with in the past, including Michael Schumacher and Fernando Alonso.
Stella worked with both Schumacher and Alonso at Ferrari – where he also worked with Kimi Raikkonen – and then spent further time alongside Alonso and Jenson Button at McLaren. Now team principal at the latter, Stella has overseen the decision to secure Norris’ future until at least the end of 2026, and says he has the ability to join those other names as a world champion.
“Lando definitely stands together with them,” Stella said. “It’s the same category, same kind of world championship material, the underlying talent, the mindset, the work ethos, it’s all ready to go.
“At the same time when you think about champions there’s a characteristics of champions, it’s they only get better. Real champions, they seem to just improve year by year, and I think that’s the case because they use their intelligence, their ethos, they get the best people around them, they do whatever it takes to get better and better because the sport gets only more and more competitive.
“So definitely we have all the raw material, which we saw already, when Lando was doing the free practice one with us, it was very evident in 2018, then it kept growing. It’s there, we just need to keep growing year after year, which every champion does, but we are extremely happy and committed to Lando in this respect.”
Norris says the atmosphere and comfort he feels within McLaren has allowed him to develop to this stage of his career, and played a major role in him wanting to remain with the team regardless of potential interest from elsewhere.
“I definitely always wanted to be convinced McLaren is my future,” Norris said. “Of course we’ve gone through some harder years recently, and things definitely didn’t pick up as much as we were hoping, between 20, 21, 22, beginning of 23. But also, a lot has changed.
“There are always going to be little things going on backwards and forwards between people. But in terms of keeping my concentration where it needs to be, which is just on the driving and continuing to focus on that [McLaren is best] – and especially with how we turned things around last year, and with what we know we can still achieve and do with even more things coming our way in terms of personnel and infrastructure. There’s still things which are coming online, and just getting warmed up.
“Considering we were able to do what we did last year, considering it’s a team I have been with since the beginning, it’s a team I want to continue my story with in terms of reaching my goal of winning races, and winning championships. McLaren is a team I want to do it with.
“They are the ones who have brought me into F1, they have given me this opportunity so in some ways I feel like I also owe it to them, but I’m just very much part of the family and also very much enjoying where I am.
“That’s always a big part of it. I don’t want to enjoy another team and not enjoy anything. I’m part of the family, I’m excited to be part of that family – especially on the trajectory we are on – I think it’s been the most important factor in all of this.”