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McLaren 'hits the jackpot' with 2019 driver options - Brown

Fernando Alonso, Stoffel Vandoorne - McLaren
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McLaren executive director Zak Brown says that the team is in an enviable position when it comes to driver choice for 2019.

Last year the team lived in mortal fear of Fernando Alonso walking out in frustration over its performance. The two-time world champion was eventually mollified and agreed to a one-year extension for 2018.

But whatever happens this season, Brown is confident that they have a world class selection of drivers to choose between for next year.

"There are a variety of different scenarios and it is like flicking the jackpot," he said this week. "It could be this, or this or that.

“We’re in a great position where we have three great drivers and two seats," he pointed out. "[It's] a luxury situation to be in.

"We will see how things go before figuring out what the future looks like," he added. "We know what the scenarios are but we haven’t set any expectations yet.

"You would be predicting too early what you think might happen."

As well as Alonso, McLaren has also retained the talented Stoffel Vandoorne for a second season at Woking. His maiden campaign had proved a tough introduction for the Belgian, not least because of chronic problems with the Honda power units.

“Stoffel was obviously in a totally different situation from Fernando," Brown said. "He was still learning some of the circuits.

"Last year will be good for his development in a strange way because it put more pressure on him," Brown added. "He had to be quicker to analyse the situation and make the most of it."

Brown said there would be "good stuff" to come from Vandoorne, and set the driver the target of closing the gap to his team mate in 2018.

"He has got to swap qualifying with Fernando as he got a big discrepancy in qualifying," he said. "I would like that split. And the same thing for the races, he’s got to give Fernando a run for his money.

"I am sensitive to Fernando being such a superstar that you want Stoffel to know he’s got every bit as much support, which he does. But he handles it really well."

And waiting in the wings is Lando Norris, the youngest ever FIA F3 European Champion. Norris has been appointed McLaren's official test and reserve driver for this season.

The 18-year-old has already partnered Alonso at the Rolex 24 Hours at Daytona and made his Race of Champions début.

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