McLaren F1 junior Lando Norris also had Mercedes and Red Bull talks

McLaren Autosport BRDC Award winner Lando Norris says he also had talks with Mercedes, Red Bull and Renault about joining their young-driver programmes

McLaren F1 junior Lando Norris also had Mercedes and Red Bull talks

Former karting world champion Norris has won four titles in his first two seasons in single-seaters, including the Formula Renault Eurocup and NEC crowns last year.

He joined the list of MABA winners last December, a prize that includes a Formula 1 test, fitness programme and paid simulator role, and became part of McLaren's junior roster in February.

Norris has stepped up to the Formula 3 European Championship this year with Carlin, winning the opening race of the season at Silverstone, and said there was contact with other F1 outfits last year as well.

"We had a few discussions with a few teams - Red Bull, Renault and Mercedes," the 17-year-old told Autosport.

"It wasn't so much on just wanting to get on a junior programme, it was more about getting to know what they could offer and what opportunities they could offer in the future.

"In that sense, McLaren was by far the best.

"I'm not saying the others are bad, but McLaren being based in England is a huge positive, and they have more opportunities for the future.

"If Honda were to get more teams, I'd like to say that could open up [some chances]."

McLaren has promoted juniors Kevin Magnussen and Stoffel Vandoorne to race seats in recent years, and Norris is joined on its books by Formula 2 drivers Nyck de Vries and Nobuharu Matsushita, the latter through its Honda partnership.

Quizzed on how its offering differs from Red Bull's renowned set-up, Norris said: "With Red Bull, it doesn't seem like the drivers have the most control over what goes on -Helmut Marko obviously plays a huge role in deciding who does what and where.

"They have two teams [in F1], but unless you're the next [Max] Verstappen, you're not going to be put straight in a Red Bull seat.

"McLaren has the best record of getting young drivers into F1, they have a programme for them in terms of the sim, physical training, getting to know the engineers and everything.

"Whereas it seems, in some of the others, there seems to be less interaction. You have the name 'young driver', and that's more or less it.

"McLaren offer a lot more, and believe in their drivers when they have the chance to get to F1."

Norris currently sits third in the European F3 points, after taking another podium in race three at Silverstone.

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