Lando Norris: British driver, 18, given Belgium GP practice drive by McLaren

Lando Norris: British driver, 18, given Belgium GP practice drive by McLaren
Lando Norris won the European Formula Three title last year

British teenager Lando Norris will make his Friday practice debut for McLaren at this week’s Belgium Grand Prix.

The 18-year-old will deputise for Fernando Alonso after the double world champion announced he would retire from Formula One at the end of the season.

Norris, from Glastonbury in Somerset, is the reserve driver for McLaren.

But his Spa-Francorchamps drive will be his first behind the wheel during a full grand prix weekend and a chance to stake a claim for a 2019 race seat.

Alonso will return for the second and third practice sessions, qualifying and the race itself but his departure has created created a vacancy at McLaren next year.

One of those seats has already been filled by Carlos Sainz, but the identity of his team-mate is unclear, with the British outfit seemingly not certain to retain their current driver Stoffel Vandoorne.

Norris was approached by Toro Rosso in June to replace Brendon Hartley for the rest of this season, but McLaren said no.

McLaren sporting director Gil de Ferran said: “This weekend will be the first time that our reserve driver Lando will drive the MCL33 during a race weekend, as he steps into Fernando’s car for FP1 on Friday.

“This is not only part of his ongoing development, but also the evaluation and performance evolution of the car. We’ll be taking a strategic view race-by-race at where else this might be beneficial for us over the coming grands prix.”

Norris emulated Lewis Hamilton by winning the European Formula Three championship last year and is second in the Formula Two championship, the feeder series to F1.

The F1 season resumes in Belgium following its one-month summer break with Hamilton holding a 24-point lead over Sebastian Vettel.

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