Max Verstappen confirms Lando Norris team-mate talks behind the scenes

Max Verstappen has confirmed that he and Lando Norris have talked about the possibility of becoming team-mates at Red Bull in private, following reports that the Milton Keynes-based team were looking at the young Briton as a potential replacement for Sergio Perez.

The 23-year-old has been one of the season’s stand-out drivers, delivering both of McLaren’s two podiums and cementing his reputation as one of the strongest young talents in the sport.

With Checo coming under increasing pressure and his seat beyond 2024 looking more and more in doubt, Norris’ name has regularly been circulated when discussing potential long-term replacements, alongside Daniel Ricciardo, Yuki Tsunoda and Liam Lawson. 

Speaking to Sky Sports Italy about the possibility of teaming up with Norris, Verstappen explained: “We talk about it. But he’s contracted to McLaren for a long time. We’ll see what happens in the future.”

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Verstappen and Norris are known to be extremely close friends outside of F1, spending time together in breaks between race weekends. Fans are hoping to see that friendship translate into a rivalry on the racetrack in 2024 and beyond.

Despite the constant rumours surrounding Red Bull’s links to Norris, the Bristol-born driver remains content with his environment at McLaren.

Speaking to Sky Sports F1 earlier this season, he said: “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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There are multiple complications that could arise should Red Bull look to replace Perez with Norris in either 2024 or 2025. The 23-year-old is currently contracted until the end of the 2025 campaign, and there are not believed to be any exit clauses in his deal.

A switch to Red Bull would therefore require the Milton Keynes-based team to buy Norris out of his contract, and given the ambition of Zak Brown and the team at Woking, they are unlikely to entertain offers.

Helmut Marko has also given his thoughts on the switch, telling Motorsport-Magazin: “That would certainly be ideal for the audience, television and journalists, but not for team leadership and success, we as a team want to win the World Championship. It’s better if you have a certain hierarchy where it’s clear who is – I don’t want to say number 1 driver, but who is clearly faster.”

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