McLaren turn down Toro Rosso deal for Norris

McLaren have reportedly turned down a bid by Toro Rosso to fast-track Lando Norris into Formula 1 by replacing underperforming Brendon Hartley in the Red Bull-owned team.

BBC report that the approach was made before the Spanish Grand Prix, with Red Bull touting a deal to replace Hartley with the 18-year-old, but McLaren rejected the idea and have opted to keep Norris on the Formula 2 path that he is currently on.

McLaren may also have feared losing their protege to Red Bull for the long term while putting the youngster in the limelight too early, something the team are keen to avoid.

If the Toro Rosso bid had worked Norris would have suited up in Toro Rosso colours and lined up on the grid for the Austrian Grand Prix at Red Bull Ring on 1 July.

In response, a McLaren spokesman said, “We are not surprised that other teams approach our drivers. They clearly believe they are as talented as we do.”

Toro Rosso were tapped for comment but have not responded.

However, it is likely the decision to approach McLaren for a loan deal for Norris would have been made at the highest level and ordained by the organisation’s driver boss Helmut Marko.

He famously promoted Max Verstappen to Red Bull, replacing Daniil Kvyat, for the 2016 Spanish Grand Prix which the young Dutchman went on to win.

Another stumbling block is said to have been Toro Rosso wanting a condition in the deal which would give them first option on Norris for next season which McLaren were supposedly not keen to do.

Norris, who is the hottest property on the fringes of Formula 1, currently leads the Formula 2 championship and is said to have a condition in his contract which would require McLaren to provide him with an F1 race seat next season should he win this year’s F2 title.

Big Question: Did Mclaren turn down a good opportunity for Norris?