Red Bull motorsport boss Helmut Marko says he held talks with Lando Norris before the McLaren driver renewed his allegiance to the Woking-based outfit earlier this year.
Norris joined McLaren’s young driver program at the start of 2017, an opportunity that led to FP1 outings with the team in 2018 and then to race seat in 2019 alongside Carlos Sainz.
The 21-year-old’s stock trended higher from the outset after his promotion to the big time and has continued to soar this season thanks to his outstanding performance level that almost yielded his maiden Grand Prix win last weekend in Russia.
Marko says that Norris caught his eye early on, which encouraged him to touch base at one point with the Briton and to gauge his plans for the future.
Read also: Norris underwent two-day sim session after Sochi defeat
“We had talks with him, but he’s tied to McLaren for the long-term. We stay true to our way,” Marko told Austria’s OE24.
While Marko holds Norris in high regard, the Red Bull motorsport boss still considers Max Verstappen as Grand Prix racing’s top talent.
“Norris has caught my eye before,” Marko added. “But Max is still at the top of my ranking because he can deliver immediately under all conditions and without making a mistake, which he proved again impressively just now in the rain in Sochi.
“He almost won the race, he just had to come into the pits one lap earlier.
“I am proud that we dared to bring Max into Formula 1 at 16. He never made me doubt that our path was the right one. He is always super focused and can’t be deterred from his goal of winning.”
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