Lando Norris says that his approach to extending his contract with McLaren was an “awkward” moment that felt like “talking to a girl for the first time”.
McLaren announced on Wednesday that it had sealed a multi-year agreement with Norris that will see the 21-year-old race on with the Woking-based outfit into 2022 and beyond.
Norris revealed that his initial talks regarding an extension of his relationship with McLaren took place while he was having dinner with McLaren Racing boss Zak Brown, after he had hesitantly taken the lead and put the subject on the table.
“It was actually something I brought up when I went to dinner with Zak a while ago,” Norris recalled.
“He was talking a little bit about the future and I was just like: ‘You know, about these future years, is it something we want to start talking about now? Is it something you want to talk about later in the season?’
“Just because I don’t know when or how to bring it up, just like a guy talking to a girl for the first time, so a bit awkward.
“I think at that time they already started talking about it as a team, between Zak and Andreas and so on. And it was something that I preferably wanted to get out the way as soon as possible.
“We then started talking about it and all flowed from that. It was just a bit of a weird one for me to bring up, because I’ve not necessarily been in that position before.”
Addressing the commitment that now binds team and driver for the long term, Norris says that his ambition is to become a clear “team leader” at McLaren who will carry the papaya squad forward.
“I want to be that kind of guy who can lead the team, who has been there for many years, who has helped them through the bad times and help them achieve the good times,” Norris said.
“And that’s why I’m still here, that’s why I signed for some more years, because I want to be in that position.
“Even this year I already took a step forward in that position. I’m feeling like a different and improved driver to the last couple seasons, taking on more responsibility and leading the team in more ways.
“So that’s definitely something I like, something I want to be able to do going into the future.”
Norris’ says his loyalty to McLaren is in large part rooted in the relationship he enjoys with his fellow team members – a surrogate family of sorts – and in how comfortable he feels at Woking, living just a stone’s throw from the outfit’s base.
“As much as I want to win races and win championships and so on, the other thing that’s just as important to me is making sure I enjoy where I am,” he explained.
“So just as much as winning and success means to me, actually having fun, enjoying my life is just as important. And that comes with the loyalty side of it, the same mechanics, the same engineers working with those people for many years and that’s where I get a lot of that from.
“There’s nothing more that I like than to continue being where I am.”
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