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McLaren not prepared to lend out its 'star of the future'

Lando Norris, McLaren, Hungaroring test
© XPB 

McLaren has made it clear that it's not prepared to loan out the services of Lando Norris to any other team on the Formula 1 grid.

The 17-year-old from Bristol is currently competing for Carlin in the Formula 3 European Championship. He scored a phenomenal victory in the wet on Saturday morning at the Nurburgring, beating Jake Hughes by 17s in the first race of the weekend.

Norris was also impressive when he took part in the Formula 1 in-season test with McLaren at the Hungaroring last month. He was second fastest on his day in the MCL32, with only Ferrari's Sebastian Vettel going quicker.

With Fernando Alonso's future with the F1 team in doubt, there's been speculation that Norris could make his Grand Prix debut in 2018. However, McLaren executive director Zak Brown has played down such talk.

"Our current plan is to put him in Formula 2," he told Motorsport.com this week, suggesting that they will help fund a season for Norris at leading team Prema.

"I certainly think he's fast enough to be in Formula 1," Brown continued. "But you also need to make sure not to rush things and give him enough experience."

In recent years, teams have got that experience for their young drivers by finding placements for them at other teams. Force India driver Esteban Ocon is part of the Mercedes-Benz driver development programme.

Another Mercedes protege, Pascal Wehrlein, is driving with Sauber. Meanwhile Ferrari juniors Antonio Giovinazzi and Charles Leclerc have been linked with possible 2018 drives at either Haas or Sauber.

But Brown says he was opposed to farming Lando Norris out to another team.

"He's definitely our star of the future," Brown explained. "I don't think we'd put him in another Formula 1 team at this point.

"No [other Formula 1] team has made a request," he added when asked if there had been any approaches for Norris' services.

While Norris' immediate future as part of McLaren's programme is assured, the position of Nyck de Vries is less certain.

"He's doing a lot of simulator work for us and doing extremely well," Brown said of the Formula 2 driver.

"We've not taken a decision yet on our junior programme for next year" he said. He explained that racing director Eric Boullier was in charge of that aspect of the team's sporting activities.

"We've obviously got Lando signed up. Nyck currently, but that's something Eric is working on," said Brown. "We've got some meetings coming up this month. Then it's really for Eric to say the direction of the junior programme."

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