Norris “stands together” with F1 greats as world champion material

Norris announced last week that he had committed his long-term future to McLaren, with a new contract that takes him beyond the 2026 season.

Speaking about the reasons for sticking to his current squad, the British driver explained that he felt there was no better place for him to achieve his target of the world title.

Although he has yet to deliver a victory for McLaren, his team boss has no doubts about just how good the youngster is and how he stacks up against some of F1’s greatest.

Stella, having worked with the likes of Fernando Alonso, Kimi Raikkonen and Michael Schumacher, sees Norris on a similar career trajectory.

“Lando definitely stands together with them,” explained Stella.

“It is the same category, the same kind of world championship material, the underlying talent, the mindset, the work ethos. It’s all ready to go.

“But at the same time, when you think about champions, there is a characteristic of champion in that they only get better.

“Real champions, they seem to just improve year by year.

Lando Norris, McLaren, after Qualifying

Photo by: Steven Tee / Motorsport Images

Lando Norris, McLaren, after Qualifying

“And I think that’s the case because they use the intelligence, the ethos, and 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.”

Stella said that Norris had shown clear natural talent ever since he first stepped into an F1 car, but that the time since then had shown how much he has improved.

“Definitely we have all the raw material, which we saw already when Lando was doing the free practice one [sessions] with us,” he said. “It was very evident in 2018.

“And then it kept growing. It’s there, we just need to keep growing year after year like every champion does. But we are extremely happy and committed to Lando, in this respect.”

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Norris was believed to be of interest to both Ferrari and Red Bull as a potential driver from 2026 prior to him sorting out his new contract.

However, reflecting on turning other teams down, Norris explained that the emotional ties with McLaren were critical and that it was a no-brainer to commit to his current squad.

“I think it’s just a very, very good time, especially when it’s going to be coming to a couple of years where things start to get a bit more crazy with everyone else’s contracts, and people potentially moving teams and things like that,” he said.

“Going into ’26, and those years of new regulations, that’s not something I think I or the team want to be thinking of, or focusing on, or spending any time on in such an important couple of years.

“I’m comfortable, I’m happy with where I am, and the team are happy with me. So it’s just an easy decision.”

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