The Woking team surprised everyone in the F1 Paddock by revealing their driver line-up for next season of current drivers Carlos Sainz Jr and Lando Norris. The early announcement, although strange, is a master-stroke by the 8 Time World Champions.
Confirmed on Tuesday ahead of the British GP, McLaren announced that their driver line-up would remain unchanged for the 2020 F1 Season.
Whilst Carlos Sainz Jr was signed as part multi-year contract and was expected to stay on, Lando Norris, on the grid as an F1 driver for the first time this season, was also given the same contract but had to pass probation in order for him to secure a second year. Both drivers have had an amazing year so far with both sitting in the top 10 of the Drivers Championship.
F2 runner-up, Norris has scored in 4 races this season taking a highest finish of 6th at the Bahrain and Austrian GPs. His one-lap speed has also been very impressive as he has started the last two races from 5th on the grid. In his debut season, Norris is excelling expectations.
The former Toro Rosso and Renault driver, Sainz is also having a great season. After a difficult start to the season, experiencing reliability woes and misfortune, the Spaniard has scored in 5 of the last 6 races. This year, he has been able to show his speed and confidence in the car and this was demonstrated at the Austrian GP where he started the race in 19th to come home 8th after an excellent drive.
The pair sit in 7th and 8th in the championship with Sainz on 30 points with and Norris on 22 points.
After a couple of trying years for Woking based team, this season so far has been cracking with the team sitting in 4th in the Constructors Championship on 52 points. 20 points ahead of engine supplier Renault in 5th.
So why have McLaren announced this partnership so early?
It’s due to the fact that both Sainz and Norris have been performing to an extraordinary level. Their partnership on the track and off it has been amazing to watch and it’s paying off for McLaren. To have the 4th quickest car on the grid, it’s a huge improvement on last season where the team finished in 6th with for the whole season. And having scored 52 points so far, expect that tally to keep on increasing.
A second and possibly more important reason to announce their driver line-up early was to ward off other teams in the F1 paddock trying to pinch each of their drivers. Such of their performances so far this season, both drivers had attracted attention from others teams. Norris was on Red Bull’s radar in 2017 when they were looking for a driver for Toro Rosso. This move was shut down by McLaren who had Norris on their Young Drivers Programme.
“The silly season has already started, there’s a lot of background noise in the paddock regarding driver line-up changes for next year.”
McLaren Team Boss, Andreas Seidl talking to SSN
If you look at it from the outside, it really just shows that McLaren have faith in their current line-up. Ultimately, they back their own drivers and they don’t want anyone else racing for them at this current moment.