European F3 driver Norris could become McLaren reserve in 2018

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McLaren development driver and potential European Formula 3 champion, Lando Norris could be promoted the official reserve driver at the British team for 2018, should Jenson Button leave.

The 17-year-old thoroughly impressed on his first F1 outing with McLaren back in August when his pace was comparable to the current race drivers Fernando Alonso and Stoffel Vandoorne at the post-race test in Hungary.

That led to high praise from many pointing him out a future star and this weekend he is expected to follow current F1 drivers Esteban Ocon and Lance Stroll in winning the European F3 title, sitting 72 points clear in the standings with just the three races left at Hockenheim.

Whether the position of McLaren reserve becomes available, however, depends on the 2009 world champion, who took the position after vacating his seat to Stoffel Vandoorne at the end of 2016. 

Button recently claimed he has no intention of returning to F1 but would like to race either in Japan's Super GT or in America full-time next year, meaning he would have to be relieved of the third driver role.

"He is an ambassador and we would be happy to keep working with him in a role that suits both parties but as far as racing is concerned we have nothing to offer to him," racing director Eric Boullier commented.

"If Jenson has no role here then, of course, we need a new [reserve] driver, we have to prepare. Lando could be one of them," he added. "If he wins Formula 3, which is very likely, then he will have enough points to get a superlicence."

Reserve driver duties for Norris would also sit in very well with the plan McLaren executive director Zak Brown has for the young Briton in 2018.

"Our current plan is to put him in Formula 2," he revealed. "I certainly think he's fast enough to be in Formula 1 but we don't want to rush things. He's definitely our star of the future and we won't put him in another Formula 1 team at this point."