Links between Norris and Red Bull have revved up over the Italian Grand Prix weekend after Norris admitted he would not be against teaming up with his friend Verstappen at some point. “It’s definitely something I would be open to in the future,” he said.
“I think I can happily say Max is probably one of the best drivers ever in the history of Formula 1. I never raced against him until I was in Formula 1, but I was always in the category below. In karting I already knew him reasonably well.
“Back in 2012-2013 was the first time I got to meet him and get to know him, so I’ve been able to witness what he’s doing, and I think it’s not just that he’s in a good car and he’s able to perform. I think no matter what car he’s in, he’ll be able to perform at a similar level.
“It’d be great to work alongside someone like that and, at the same time, see where I can really stand against him. I’d be open to it. I invited him to McLaren the other day. So, if he wants to come any time, he’s very welcome.”
Norris is currently under a firm contract with McLaren until the end of the 2025 season though, having signed a new deal to extend his stay at the Woking-based squad ahead of the 2022 campaign.
The Norris links with Red Bull are intriguing because they come against the backdrop of the Milton Keynes-based team being an engine option for the McLaren team from 2026. It is not impossible that, as part of a deal to secure a power unit supply, McLaren could be tempted to release Norris early to its rival.
Red Bull has Sergio Perez under contract until the end of 2024, but there is a potential vacancy alongside Verstappen for 2025. Such a scenario has, however, been ruled out by McLaren CEO Zak Brown, who is emphatic that Norris will see out his current contract.
Asked by Motorsport.com’s sister site Motorsport-Total.com if McLaren would reject any offer to release Norris, Brown said: “Correct. Lando will be racing at McLaren through 2025. For sure."
Brown has also played down suggestions that McLaren is specifically pushing hard to secure a Red Bull engine supply, even though he visited the squad’s new powertrains factory earlier this year.
He said that it was his job to hold talks with all manufacturers, as McLaren weighs up whether or not to continue with current partner Mercedes after 2025. "We did go visit Red Bull and their facilities and what they're doing is impressive,” he added.
Red Bull team principal Christian Horner did not deny interest in Norris’ services when asked at Monza about the Briton. However, he said that Red Bull would certainly respect any contract that was in place.
“Lando is a great driver, there's no doubt about that, and you can see his potential is growing,” explained Horner. “But he's a McLaren driver, and you have to respect the agreements that are in place.
“He's doing a great job in the sport and of course we have our drivers confirmed for ’24. In ’25 we have one seat open and, as you can imagine, there's not a shortage of interest in that seat. But it's a long way away at the moment.”
Red Bull is not the only team interested in Norris’s service. He has been linked to Ferrari, and Motorsport.com understands that Aston Martin Group CEO Martin Whitmarsh has also recently sounded out the Briton about a future switch to the Silverstone-based squad.