McLaren said to have rejected Toro Rosso bid for Norris


The Press Association is reporting that McLaren has rejected a bid by Toro Rosso to sign Lando Norris as a replacement for Brendon Hartley.

Hartley, who was dropped as a test and reserve driver for Red Bull and Toro Rosso in mid-2010, was controversially brought back into the fold last year in the wake of the Faenza outfit's decision to drop Daniil Kvyat.

While the shortcomings of the Renault package left the kiwi with a string of retirements, a disappointing start to the current season, including a couple of controversial clashes, including one with his teammate, has led to speculation that the Faenza team has already given up on the youngster.

In Monaco, Hartley dismissed the speculation over his seat, however, based on Red Bull's history, few were giving the kiwi much of a future with the Faenza outfit.

Now, the Press Association claims that McLaren rejected a bid from Toro Rosso that would have seen Lando Norris in the STR13 in time for the Austrian Grand Prix.

However, the only quote used in the story is that of a McLaren spokesman who told the Press Association: "We are not surprised that other teams approach our drivers. They clearly believe they are as talented as we do."

Dumped by Red Bull, Hartley went on to achieve success in Sports Cars, winning the WEC twice and Le Mans once.

Norris, who won last year's European Formula 3 championship, and is currently leading the F2 championship, is widely regarded as one of Britain's hottest properties.

Still only 18, much like Lewis Hamilton before him, Norris was won almost every series he has contested - often at the first attempt - including the MSA Formula in 2015, the Eurocup Formula Renault 2.0, Formula Renault 2.0 NEC and Toyota Racing Series. Though Abu Dhabi last year marked his F2 debut, he got 2018 season off to the best possible start by winning in Bahrain.

With the future of Fernando Alonso unclear, and Stoffel Vandoorne falling short of expectations, one can understand that McLaren will be keen to retain Russell, aware that once part of the Red Bull machinery it might prove difficult to get him back.

If Hartley is dropped, he would follow in the tracks of Scott Speed, Sebastien Bourdais and Daniil Kvyat who were all dropped mid-season by the Faenza team.

Were Norris to have been released to Toro Rosso, the Glastonbury-born teenager would have become the youngest ever Briton to start a round of the Formula One World Championship.

Other drivers whose F1 careers essentially ended with the team are Jaime Alguersuari, Sebastien Buemi and Jean Eric Vergne.

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Published: 06/06/2018
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