McLaren’s ‘Key’ to success via Norris?

JEREZ DE LA FRONTERA, SPAIN - FEBRUARY 07: James Key the Scuderia Toro Rosso Technical Director is seen in the team garage during Formula One winter testing at Circuito de Jerez on February 7, 2013 in Jerez de la Frontera, Spain. (Photo by Peter Fox/Getty Images) *** Local Caption *** James Key

As we consider the possible permutations of the 2019 driver market, the name of Lando Norris has cropped up as a potentional teammate of newly-signed Carlos Sainz at McLaren. This would assume the team will part ways with current driver Stoffel Vandoorne.

What is seemingly unrelated, McLaren announced the signing of technical genius, James Key from his current post at Toro Rosso. Many in the paddock respect James and his abilities and for me, he looked set to be the logical choice of eventually replacing Adrian Newey at Red Bull.

However, things change and Key has now signed a deal with McLaren but there’s a catch, Toro Rosso boss, Franz Tost, says Key isn’t going anywhere until 2020 as they have a contract with him. McLaren says they are aware of that contract and will work around it but they may have a way of sweetening the deal that could see Key joining the team sooner than later.

Toro Rosso may be interested in McLaren young driver Lando Norris. Norris is in play for the 2019 seat at McLaren but perhaps trading a driver for Key is more critical at the moment for McLaren?

According to a Sky Sport report, McLaren boss Zak Brown said:

“In the world of F1 there’s always ways and opportunities to change situations,” Brown said. “That’s certainly something that we’d potentially consider.”

The fact is, Vandoorne is capable of scoring points. He did so in his first race for the team subbing for Alonso a couple of years ago. He simply hasn’t had the car to deliver results and being measured against Alonso is a tall order for anyone to achieve.

Would a young driver be more critical to the team now or would key personnel (no pun intended) be the absolute goal now that the team are experiencing a wave of changes in its upper management structure? Nothing against Norris but drivers may come and go but incredibly effective technical geniuses who design cars? Not so much. I think I know the deal I would be trying to make.

Hat Tip: Sky Sports F1

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They’re currently seventh in the constructor’s championship with one of the best drivers in the sport in Fernando Alonso. If Alonso isn’t enough to drag this car to relevance, then they’re certainly not going to fix things by bringing in an F2 driver next year. It’s way more important at this point to get some engineering talent through the door and work out the problems with the car. Sainz and Vandoorne are plenty to get them some points next year while they work out the kinks with the chassis.