A rumor that has been sparked within F1 is that Lando Norris may be on his way to join Red Bull. What should you make of these rumors?
After a sensational drive this weekend at Singapore, Lando Norris was able to take the second step on the podium. He scored valuable points for his team and has been a great driver this year. He has managed to secure points in many races, even when his car is not on par with the front-runners.
But what about the rumors off-track for Norris? Helmut Marko, head of Red Bull’s driver development program, has stated that the English driver is a strong candidate to replace current Red Bull driver, Sergio Perez. Perez has struggled this season compared to his teammate. A parting of the two parties may be in the near future. Here is what is known about the current situation:
— Formula 1 (@F1) September 18, 2023
Red Bull Leaders are Not in Agreement
As said earlier, Marko is keen on finding a replacement for Perez. The question is how soon are the championship leaders willing to replace him? Christian Horner has confirmed that Perez will continue driving for them through 2024. However, Marko has said that the driver lineup is not yet set, and the team will discuss how to proceed with both drivers.
Recently, Marko has shown flashes of ignorance towards Perez and has made comments implying where he may stand on the situation. This can most notably be seen when he stated:
“We know that he has problems in qualifying, he has fluctuations in form, he is South American and he is just not as completely focused in his head as Max is or as Sebastian”
These comments came after the Italian Grand Prix. The FIA and drivers have taken action against Marko and claimed that his comments were unnecessary. The Red Bull advisor has since apologized. His intended to mention how Perez’s performances have been inconsistent. But it is never needed to attest these performances to someone’s culture or race.
With all the drama aside, it is apparent that the Red Bull leaders are not necessarily on the same page about the team’s driver line-up for 2024.
Would Norris Fit at Red Bull?
Norris and Verstappen currently have a great relationship. The two are very good friends off the track and could potentially work well together as teammates. The biggest question that would arise if these rumors became true is Norris’s role on the team. Norris is a great talent and may not want to be the “second” driver. Verstappen is clearly the most dominant driver of the recent era and has been a Red Bull driver for the entirety of his F1 career. The team is centered around him, and Norris would have to consistently beat his teammate to earn priority over the current world champion.
When asked about the potential of linking up with Verstappen during his career, Norris said:
“I would love an opportunity to do it in the future… Maybe when Max is bored of winning he can come to McLaren”
The driver continued to mention how he understands that if you lose to Verstappen then you will become the second driver. And while he said he is not a guy who would flat-out claim he would beat him, he said that he likes to believe that he could compete with Verstappen.
Norris has shown pace in every car he has raced in. And he has beaten every teammate he has raced against besides Carlos Sainz. He should be a formidable opponent to Verstappen in equal machinery. But more importantly, he could potentially bring home more championship points than Perez.
Will the Rumors Come True?
The odds of both Perez and Norris ending their contracts early to join different teams are rather low. The likelihood of Norris joining Red Bull is substantially higher at the end of next season. However, how both of the drivers perform up to the conclusion of this season will determine how this situation plays out.