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McLaren assessing F1 driver options: Lando Norris gets outing at Belgian GP

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McLaren assessing F1 driver options: Lando Norris gets outing at Belgian GP
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Aug 21, 2018, 2:01 PM

McLaren has a seat potentially available for 2019 will give Lando Norris his first appearance at a Formula One weekend when he takes part in the op...

McLaren has a seat potentially available for 2019 will give Lando Norris his first appearance at a Formula One weekend when he takes part in the opening free practice session for the Belgian Grand Prix.

The 18-year-old McLaren development driver will take the wheel of Fernando Alonso's MCL33 during FP1 as the team continue their evaluation of their 2019 driver options. He is believed to be a contender for the second seat alongside Carlos Sainz for 2019.

Currently racing with Carlin in Formula Two, Norris has driven the McLaren at a number of test days, most recently at the in-season test in Budapest.

McLaren sporting director Gil de Ferran confirmed that the Briton may also be given additional free practice one sessions over the rest of the season.

“This weekend will be the first time that our reserve driver Lando will drive the MCL33 during a race weekend, as he steps into Fernando’s car for FP1 on Friday," he said.

"This is not only part of his ongoing development, but also the evaluation and performance evolution of the car. We’ll be taking a strategic view race-by-race at where else this might be beneficial for us over the coming grands prix."

Carlos Sainz is already confirmed as a McLaren driver for 2019, but the Woking team face a tough decision on who they want to partner him for next year.

After being soundly beaten by Fernando Alonso - who will not participate in F1 next year - over the first half of this season, Stoffel Vandoorne will be looking to prove his worth in the final few races and stake his claim for the seat.

Norris remains a highly-coveted driver. Currently second in F2, he's vindicated his stellar junior career where he took Formula Renault titles and the European Formula Three championship.

Approaches from Toro Rosso earlier in the year were rebuffed by McLaren and, with Toro Rosso potentially on the hunt for two new drivers for next year, the Woking team may be faced with a 'use him or lose him' dilemma.

Force India's Esteban Ocon is also believed to be on McLaren's radar. The Frenchman appeared destined for a Renault seat prior to Ricciardo being confirmed at the team earlier this month.

Now, with Sergio Perez looking more likely to partner Lance Stroll at Force India next season, Ocon's options appear reduced and a McLaren drive may be the most attractive seat available.

By: Luke Murphy

All images: Motorsport Images

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Series Formula 1
Author Luke Murphy
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