New F1 Drive to Survive reveals how Norris considered McLaren exit


Season 6 of Netflix's Drive to Survive F1 show indicates how non-committal Lando Norris was in pledging his future to McLaren in the wake of its poor early 2023 results

Lando Norris McLaren 2024 Netflix shot

Norris: Muses McLaren future in new Netflix series


Lando Norris contemplated a move away from McLaren during the team’s struggles last season, it is revealed in the new series of Netflix’s hit F1 docudrama Drive to Survive.

His growing frustrations with his car’s lack of performance, after finishing last in the opening race of 2023, are exposed in an episode that focuses on the 24-year-old’s tumultuous year.

McLaren realised that it had got last year’s car wrong before it even arrived for pre-season testing, and Norris is shown disparaging his machinery, comparing it to a golf cart and coveting a winning car.

The sixth instalment of Drive to Survive also illustrates Norris agonising over his future while his McLaren team desperately appeal for to him to stay amid serious interest from other rivals, particularly Red Bull.

Lando Norris McLaren 2023 Bahrain GP

McLaren and Norris struggled in early part of the season

Getty Images

Now starting his sixth season in Formula 1, Lando Norris has had few chances to demonstrate the world championship potential that many believe that he has. Having joined an underperforming team in 2019, he remained patient as progress was made, only for it all to fall away at the beginning of last year. “I was hoping for a little bit more,” he admitted publicly, three races into the season. “It’s below the expectation.”

He wasn’t so reserved with his words in private, but still in front of the Drive to Survive lenses. Early scenes show Norris pointing out during its launch that the 2023 car looks largely similar to the previous year’s iteration, and poor early results confirm his worries.

In the Bahrain season opener, its lead driver came home dead last while Oscar Piastri failed to finish. “I might just walk into Red Bull and steal their car,” jokes Norris during the Sakhir weekend.

After this low point for the team, team boss Zak Brown tries to pull on the heart strings of his despondent driver over a round of golf by reminding him of their history together (the McLaren CEO had management a relationship with Norris predating their F1 tenures): ‘”I think we’ll get there, and then it will be so much more sweet.”

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The poor performance still clearly plays on the mind of Norris though, who quips “F***, it’s quicker than our car this!” while driving the golf buggy, after previously describing any lap with a slight mistake in the unforgiving machine as “garbage”.

When the McLaren man is then questioned during another dreadful weekend – this time at Miami – by the press over whether he would bet on himself to be at Woking in 2024, Norris finds himself unable to give an answer, instead turning to pull a face at the Netflix camera filming him from several tables away.

The pressure increases on McLaren as Brown is also questioned about Norris’s potential exit.

“A lot of the times in this sport people will put certain rumours out to try and put fractures into relationships, to destabilise teams and drivers,” he says.

“I think Lando is one of the most talented drivers on the grid,” emphasises Red Bull boss Christian Horner, who clearly covets the McLaren man. “In the right car he’d clearly be a winning driver, that’s absolutely no doubt about that.

Christian Horner F1 Netflix Drive to Survive 2024

Horner admits to having his sights set on getting Norris in a Red Bull


“Can his career take another year of being in the doldrums? A driver’s career has a finite amount of time to it, and he needs to make the right decisions for him at the end of the day.

“We’d certainly be interested in him. I think he’d fit in our environment. If he’s delivering he’s not going to be short of choices – he just needs to make the right choice.”

While the McLaren drivers have the party line spelt out to them by the team’s PR officer, a main aim is clearly deflecting questions related to Norris’s future in the light of its poor car performance.

“The only other thing to flag is on Lando’s contract,” they instruct the drivers and team boss. “Zak was asked specifically if there were any exit clauses – to which we said no.

“Anything that you can say that as a team we’re cementing, we’re knuckling down, we’re not listening to any noise that’s going on in the media.”

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“I guess at times I would love to know what it’s like to be in other people’s positions,” Norris later muses on his future.

“I think like ‘Hmm, what would happen if I went here or what would happen if I went there?’ Who wouldn’t think of those things?”

A dismal race in Miami follows, seeing Norris muttering and swearing under his breath at the hopeless performance of the McLaren with the team left behind many of its competitors.

There’s the sense of a tipping point, of Norris tiring once and for all of the seemingly hopeless situation. And at that moment, a new upgrade arrives. The effect is electric. A startling upturn in performance at Silverstone resulted in a British GP podium for Norris – with six more following that season.

Over the second half of the year the team was often the closest to Red Bull on pace, with this new-found speed persuading Norris to eventually sign a contract extension for 2024 and beyond.

As DtS shows though, for a long time it was far from a done deal.

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