McLaren wary of comparing Norris with Hamilton

Reuters, WOKING, England

Thu, Sep 06, 2018 - Page 16

British teenager Lando Norris would follow in the footsteps of Lewis Hamilton when he makes his Formula One race debut for McLaren next season, but the team are wary of too many comparisons.

Principal Zak Brown is excited by the 18-year-old’s potential, but he also knows under-performing McLaren are a very different team to the one Hamilton joined in 2007 at the age of 22.

It is also fair to say that McLaren’s track record with young prospects in the years since Hamilton left for Mercedes has been — like the team’s recent race performances — unimpressive.

“I think he is a future world champion,” Brown said at the factory on Tuesday, a day after the announcement that Norris would partner Spaniard Carlos Sainz next year, when asked whether he had “the next Lewis Hamilton.”

“We don’t want to draw comparisons to other drivers. That’s part of what might put too much pressure on him too quickly,” he added. “Lewis is a unique individual who may go down as the most successful Formula One driver ever.”

“Lewis walked in to a lot of testing and an outstanding race car,” he said. “He [Norris] is arriving to a winning team with a losing car.”

Norris has also blazed a winning trail through go-karts and junior series, Brown said, adding: “There were a lot of Formula One teams that wanted him, so he’s certainly here on merit.”