McLaren has confirmed British teenager Lando Norris will make the step up to a full Formula One race seat next year to partner Carlos Sainz.
Just one hour after confirming current race driver Stoffel Vandoorne would leave the team at the end of the year, McLaren announced Norris as his replacement for 2019. He will join Sainz at the team, who was confirmed by McLaren for 2019 last month following the news that Fernando Alonso would leave F1 at the end of 2018.
Norris is currently second in the Formula 2 championship but impressed the team at a test in Hungary last month and during two Friday practice outings at the last two races. McLaren CEO Zak Brown said Norris' performances to date had been enough for the team to put its trust in the 18-year-old.
"We're very pleased to finally be able to reveal who will complete our driver line-up at McLaren for 2019," Brown said. "We believe Lando is an exciting talent, full of potential, who we've very deliberately kept within the McLaren fold for exactly that reason.
"We already know he's fast, he learns quickly, and has a mature head on his young shoulders. We see much potential for our future together. The investment we have made in his budding career with simulator development and seat-time in the car has been well-deserved, as he has continued to prove his abilities both behind the wheel and in his work with the engineering team.
"Lando is an integral part of our plan for rebuilding our Formula One operation for the future, and he has already developed a strong relationship with the team.
"In Lando and Carlos we have an impressive duo who, despite their relative youth, hold valuable experience in Formula One and with McLaren, and represent the next generation of McLaren drivers to lead the team forward. While our short-term focus is fixed on securing the best possible result for the remainder of the 2018 season, we're also massively motivated by the opportunities that lie ahead."
Lando Norris added: "To be announced as a race driver for McLaren is a dream come true. Although I've been part of the team for a while now, this is a special moment, one I could only hope would become reality.
"I'd like to thank the whole team for this amazing opportunity and for believing in me. I'm also extremely grateful for the commitment McLaren has already shown in my development, allowing me to build my experience in a Formula One car in both testing and on Fridays during the past two race weekends.
"For the remainder of 2018, my focus remains firmly on the Formula 2 championship. My objective is to win the title before joining McLaren full-time, which will be tough, but I will fight as hard as I can for the remaining four races. I'll also be working closely with McLaren at every opportunity to learn as much as possible from the drivers, engineers and mechanics to give myself the best preparation ahead of next year."
Norris joined McLaren as a development driver in 2017 after impressing the F1 team with a series of championship victories in junior categories. He rose rapidly through the ranks of the junior classes, winning the Formula Renault 2.0 Northern European Cup, Formula Renault 2.0 Eurocup and the Toyota Racing Series Championship in 2016, in addition to five karting championships in the four previous years. Last year, he won the Formula 3 championship at his first attempt, propelling him into the limelight.
He has admitted his current campaign in F2 is his worst season in motorsport to date, but he is still only 22 points off championship leader George Russell and in the running with four rounds remaining.