Lando Norris dreams of matching Lewis Hamilton

Lando Norris hopes to emulate four-time world champion Lewis Hamilton as he prepares to become the youngest Formula One driver in British history.

Teenager Norris, who turns 19 in November, will follow in the footsteps of compatriot Hamilton by joining McLaren as a rookie for the 2019 season.

He will team up with Spaniard Carlos Sainz to represent Britain’s most successful team after Fernando Alonso announced his retirement and Belgian Stoffel Vandoorne was dropped.

“I think it’s nice to be compared to such a good driver. I have admired Lewis since I started watching Formula One because I know how a good a driver he is and I know how hard it is,” Norris told Press Association Sport.

“And for him to have done as well as he has done is pretty impressive.

“Hopefully one day I can have as many championship wins as he has.

“But I think more of my focus is on next year rather than thinking what could happen.”

Current world champion Hamilton was aged 22 when he burst on to the scene for McLaren at the season-opening 2007 Australian Grand Prix.

Jenson Button was given his big break by Williams when he was just 20 at the turn of the century, but Norris will now eclipse them both when he takes to the grid in Melbourne on March 17.

His opportunity comes after he impressed in the McLaren car during recent practice sessions at the Belgian and Italian Grands Prix.

The current Formula Two driver has no concerns about making the step up at such a tender age.

“It doesn’t matter if I was older – 20, 21, 22, whatever – I think I would still do the same job,” he said.

“I’m trying to do as good a job as I can next year, try and get back to winning ways with the team and just see how it goes.

“I just see it as an opportunity. I think McLaren are at a point where they need to have new drivers and a fresh start to do well in the future.

“It feels good that they believe in me, I think that’s very important.

“The top category of racing, it’s a cruel world so we’ll see how it goes.”

Norris was signed by McLaren last year after impressing in the junior categories of motor racing. He then won the prestigious Formula Three championship with two rounds to spare before he was promoted to the role of reserve driver with the British team.

The 18-year-old was notified of his promotion by McLaren CEO Zak Brown in Monza at the weekend.

“It was slightly unexpected; obviously I was pushing for it and did everything I could to try and get it. But it came a bit more sudden that I thought,” he said.

“It literally went from leaving the track to Zak saying I was going to get the drive next year.

“It’s a really cool thing to think about and, of course, I was pretty happy with the news, just knowing that everything I worked for in the past 10, 11 years has finally paid of.”

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