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Lando Norris; McLaren driver admits leaving team was 'in the back' of his mind before upturn in form

Lando Norris' long-term future with McLaren appeared to be in doubt before a stunning recent turnaround in form for the British team; the 23-year-old says he believes he can achieve his goal of winning a world championship, with the Woking outfit

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Lando Norris has admitted leaving McLaren has been "in the back" of his mind but says a recent upturn in form has left him "confident" of winning Formula 1 world championships with the team.

In February 2022 Norris signed a long-term contract extension to remain with McLaren until the end of 2025, but the team's failure to provide him with a competitive car following the agreement of the deal has led to much speculation over the 23-year-old's future.

However, after Norris was able finish above ninth just once in the opening eight races of the 2023 season, major mid-season upgrades to the MCL60 have had a remarkable impact, enabling the British driver to take back-to-back second places in July.

Asked whether he agrees with McLaren chief executive Zak Brown's belief that the MCL60's newfound speed would convince Norris to "stick around", he told Sky Sports F1: "Of course. I want to win races with McLaren. I want to win in papaya, I want to win championships.

"I want to achieve my success and I want to achieve my goals with McLaren. That's been my target since I've come here, since I've entered Formula 1 with this team.

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After Lando Norris broke Max Verstappen's trophy at the Hungarian GP, take a look back at his previous bottle-slamming celebrations on the podium

"I guess I'm a loyal guy from that point of view, that I've joined the team, they gave me a chance in Formula 1 and I want to deliver and achieve success for them.

"And I think it's a cooler story at the same time, to go from where we were a few years ago, a team that was really struggling, to fighting back and being that first team to really come back from a long way and fight for championships and wins. I think it would be just a cool story to look back on in 10, 20 years."

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Before McLaren's recent surge into podium contention, Norris had been talked about as a potential future team-mate at Red Bull for Max Verstappen, who has won eight successive races to leave himself all but assured of a third successive drivers' title.

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Go onboard with Lando Norris as the McLaren driver overtook Max Verstappen at the start of the British Grand Prix to take the lead of his home race

Norris added: "But in the back of my mind, there's that impatient game of, 'do I stick it out for another few years, or is it time to look at something different?'

"But the more we achieve things like we have done over the past few weeks, the more I'm very confident with the decision I made to stay until 2025, and the more confident I am that we can achieve our goals together in the future."

Norris expects McLaren to remain in podium contention

While Red Bull have delivered a historic run to win all 12 Grands Prix, along with three Sprints, going into the summer break, McLaren are now part of a fierce battle taking place behind Verstappen.

Mercedes, Aston Martin and Ferrari have each at times appeared to be Red Bull's nearest challenger, but the hierarchy has fluctuated with the arrival of upgrades and depending on the suitably of tracks to each team's car.

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Lando Norris and Lewis Hamilton treated the Silverstone crowd to an epic battle, following the safety car

Asked whether McLaren's July performances had confirmed they will be in podium contention for the remainder of the season, Norris said: "I want to give a straight answer, yes. There's definitely going to be some races that we're going to struggle a lot more.

"The same with every team, every year - sometimes they'll be like, 'yeah, I'm definitely confident we can do it,' and there's going to be some where you're like, 'this just doesn't quite suit us enough to confidently be there.'

"And we have two cars, two Red Bulls that basically should be one-two every single race this year. So it's like kind of fighting for third place and if things happen with one of those two drivers, then maybe you're fighting for second or first.

"But really, there's only one spot that you're kind of actually looking at, and you have two Mercedes who have been very consistent all season, and then you can never count out Ferrari and Aston, especially this year."

'Fans should be happy with McLaren progress'

Norris' warning that there would be difficult races was proven to be wise, as the team endured a relatively disappointing weekend at the Belgian Grand Prix as he only managed seventh, and team-mate Oscar Piastri retired after a first-lap collision.

However Norris is adamant that he is, and the team's fanbase, should be very happy with the progress that has been made,

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Lando Norris shows his frustration, as he struggles to build momentum at the Belgian GP

"I think they [McLaren fans] should still be very happy that we're not fighting for 18th and 19th," he said.

"I'm very happy, even if we were behind Mercedes now, I'm still very, very happy with the progress we 've made.

"From where we were, I would say it's one of the biggest turnarounds in the middle of a season for many, many years in Formula 1, and that's a very good thing to have done."

Formula 1 returns after the summer break with the Dutch GP and all sessions will be live on Sky Sports F1 from August 25-27. Stream the biggest sporting events with NOW

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