Lando Norris is relishing the prospect of working and learning alongside Fernando Alonso as the pair are set to share a United Autosports Ligier in January’s Daytona 24 Hours while the youngster becomes entrenched in McLaren’s future plans.
Norris has emerged as one of the most sensational young talents, with McLaren showing huge faith in the 18-year-old.
In an interview on McLaren’s website, Norris said of the prospect of racing alongside Alonso, “Obviously, I’d like to do well, but I think it’s a more of good opportunity to learn from Fernando. I definitely don’t want to let that opportunity go to waste.
“But, at the same time, I’d like to prove what I can do against him, especially in qualifying. Daytona is a team game, so I realise that we’ll be sharing the seat and working together.
“I’d like to think there’ll be a bit of a competition about who can do a better job in practice and qualifying. Whoever does the best has done the best, but it’s still a great opportunity to learn not from him.”
Norris has been handed the F1 reserve role at McLaren from veteran Jenson Button, this will mean a close working relationship with Alonso during the course of 2018.
Norris acknowledged, “I’ll get to know a lot more about the work ethic of a Formula 1 driver. And, even though he’ll be driving a different car, he’ll still want to do as well as he can.”
“He’ll particularly want to beat his team-mates, and he’ll work as hard as he can to improve the car. Wherever I can, I’ll try and take on board everything he does.”
McLaren are financing the youngster’s Formula 2 programme with Carlin Motorsport next year, a team Norris knows well as he has raced with them since 2014 when he drove Formula 4 under the team’s banner.
With regards to remaining with Carlin, Norris said, “I’m very pleased. Confidence-wise, it gives me a bit of a boost. At the start of this year, we kind of weren’t at our best, but we really worked our way up.”
“That’s the plan for next year as well. I’m definitely pleased I signed with Carlin – for everyone there and for myself it gives us a lot of confidence.”
And of the season ahead in Formula 2, he said, “It’s hard to say until I get to the first race. But I’m confident in what the team can do set-up wise; obviously, we’re quite limited with testing, but it’s a brand new car, which makes it a bit more of a level playing field for everyone.”
“The aim is to win – but I think that’s going to be quite tough. I think top three would be more realistic. But I said that this year and ended up winning…” added Norris.