Norris says Toro Rosso offer won’t distract him from F2 title bid

Lando Norris insists an approach from Toro Rosso to promote him to Formula 1 will not distract him from his efforts to win the Formula 2 championship this year.

Norris says Toro Rosso offer won’t distract him from F2 title bid
Lando Norris, McLaren MCL33
Podium: Lando Norris, Carlin
Lando Norris, Carlin
Lando Norris, Carlin
Lando Norris, Carlin

It emerged earlier on Wednesday that McLaren, which looks after Norris' career, has rejected an offer from Toro Rosso for the young British driver to replace Brendon Hartley from the Austrian Grand Prix.

Hartley has had a disappointing start to the season – albeit having faced a fair bit of bad luck – and there has been speculation since the Monaco GP that the New Zealander's long-term future may be in doubt.

Toro Rosso has begun evaluating its options but its offer to promote Norris was knocked back by McLaren, which is believed to be considering promoting its junior driver to its own F1 team next year.

Speaking about the Toro Rosso situation, Norris said: "I'm flattered by the stories but I'm focussed on F2 and committed to McLaren. I leave this sort of thing to my management."

It is understood that the Toro Rosso offer would have committed him to the Red Bull junior team for longer than just this season, which would not have fitted in with the situation that McLaren is facing with its two current drivers.

Fernando Alonso's future beyond the end of this year is not guaranteed, with the Spaniard having to decide if he wants to stay in F1, while Stoffel Vandoorne's future will rest on him lifting his game after a tough start to 2018.

With uncertainty over both its drivers, McLaren is well aware that it needs Norris to be available – if it believes he is ready for the step up to F1 with it in 2019.

Should McLaren eventually keep both its current drivers, then it would be more open to loaning Norris out so he can gain experience.

Speaking about the Toro Rosso offer, a McLaren spokesman said: "We are not surprised that other teams approach our drivers. They clearly believe they are as talented as we do."

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