Rumors that Lando Norris could leave McLaren for another team have led a former F1 driver to give him a warning…
The British driver has a long-term contract with the Woking team which should see him remain with the team until 2025, with McLaren CEO Zak Brown making it clear that there are no escape clauses in his deal.
But that hasn’t stopped rumors from escalating throughout the year that Norris could be a target for Red Bull as a possible replacement for Sergio Perez, rumors which were further fueled recently when Max Verstappen indicated he would be willing to race alongside the British driver if he ever decided to move to Red Bull.
David Kennedy: It might be foolish of Lando Norris to leave McLaren
While things looked bleak for McLaren and Norris earlier this year, as the MCL60 had a troubled start to life with little to boast about in terms of speed, the team has made a notable turnaround with one major change concept introduced into the car mid-season.
In many of the latest races, McLaren has been Red Bull’s closest competitor, although it has struggled to keep up at low-drag circuits such as Spa-Francorchamps and Monza.
With a real chance of finishing on the podium as 2023 enters its final stages, former Le Mans winner and F1 driver David Kennedy believes Norris’ timing would be wrong if he decided to cut and run at this point, even for companies of the caliber of Red Bull.
“You’re looking at one of the biggest teams there is,” the Irishman told PlanetF1.com in an exclusive interview.
“A driver will also get a comfort factor for the people working around him. If he leaves the team now… he knows they’re on the rise, they know they’re moving forward. It’s very difficult for a rider and I think sometimes it’s a bit silly to think you can get out of it.”
Kennedy cited the example of bad timing on the part of Fernando Alonso, the two-time world champion who became famous for abandoning ship to different teams at inopportune moments in their respective competitiveness.
“We have seen [Fernando] Alonso made the mistake many times: leaving when the team started to recover,” he said.
“He would have been world champion several times if he had stuck to his guns and let what was happening develop around him.”
With McLaren having failed to compete for a championship for over a decade, and still failing to do so under Zak Brown’s leadership, Kennedy believes the final elements are now in place to allow the former F1 giant to become a true challenger in the sport once again.
“Given their budget, their background, their experience and their success, I think it took an inordinately long time to get there,” he said.
“There were some really poor strategic decisions that made absolutely no sense whatsoever. Now, it looks like they’ve sort of cleaned up some of the debris from those decisions and put the pieces in place to be able to make that car fly.
“Clearly, it’s evident now, we are at the limit. If they continue to do what they’re doing, there’s no reason why they can’t be winners and take the final step.”
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David Kennedy: Oscar Piastri is a work in progress
While Norris remains one of F1’s most popular drivers in what has been a largely difficult season, the British driver has had to contend with a new teammate in the form of Australian driver Oscar Piastri.
The 2021 Formula 2 champion has been a hugely impressive figure in his first year in the sport and has compared himself respectably to Norris throughout the season.
But Kennedy believes Piastri is still struggling a bit and needs a little more time to unlock his true potential, but admitted there is plenty of potential available.
“It’s excellent. It’s really top notch,” she said.
“He has a great pedigree and what he has done previously has been exceptional. In a way, if you’re looking for the next Senna, Schumacher, Verstappen, you want to see the stardust straight away.
“It’s more like a work in progress, rather than a lightning bolt. Look when Hamilton got on board, he immediately went to put the car next to Alonso, a world champion, when they sat next to each other. It was phenomenal. So you’re looking for that kind of stardust performance. Piastri is a work in progress and is truly very respectable.”
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The article Lando Norris warned Fernando Alonso against making the same mistake appeared “many times” first on Planetf1.com.