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Vandoorne out, Norris in for 2019 at McLaren

Written by  Sep 04, 2018

McLaren has announced that junior driver Lando Norris will replace Stoffel Vandoorne from the start of 2019.

The Belgian has been under increasing pressure at the Woking-based team after struggling for results and pace alongside Fernando Alonso since joining at the start of last season.

This year, he has just five points to his name, with his last top 10 coming at 10 races ago in Baku, although he was on course for points in Hungary before retiring with gearbox problems.

Rumours of his exit have been swirling for a while, however, when the news was made official, he spoke with respect to the team that had helped get him into Formula 1.

"I’m very grateful to McLaren for investing their faith in me over the past five years," said Vandoorne on Monday.

"I joined McLaren as a young driver and have since seen my career progress within the team from Test and Development Driver to Reserve Driver and then to full-time race driver.

"While we haven’t achieved the success we’d all hoped for, I’ve really enjoyed the past two seasons racing for McLaren and I have a great relationship with everyone in the team.

"I intend to give it my all for the remaining seven races of this season, and will announce my plans for next season in due course."

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Replacing him will be current F2 racer Lando Norris, who only joined the team's development program in 2017 and impressed hugely on his first outing at the post-Hungarian GP test.

That earned him a promotion to reserve driver for this year and now the 19-year-old is ready to follow in the footsteps of Lewis Hamilton, Kevin Magnussen and Vandoorne before him.

"To be announced as a race driver for McLaren is a dream come true," he admitted. "Although I’ve been part of the team for a while now, this is a special moment, one I could only hope would become reality.

"I’d like to thank the whole team for this amazing opportunity and for believing in me. I’m also extremely grateful for the commitment McLaren has already shown in my development, allowing me to build my experience in an F1 car in both testing and on Fridays during the past two race weekends.

"I’ll also be working closely with McLaren at every opportunity to learn as much as possible from the drivers, engineers and mechanics to give myself the best preparation ahead of next year."

The announcement continues what has become the silliest silly season for many years and also appears to put more pressure on Esteban Ocon's future, with McLaren considered a possible destination for the Force India driver that exits to accommodate Lance Stroll.

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