By Pete Gill
Last Updated: 21/08/18 11:17am
British youngster Lando Norris will make his F1 race weekend debut for McLaren in Practice One for the Belgian GP on Friday.
The highly-regarded 18-year-old, impressing this year in F2, is the team’s test and reserve driver, and has already appeared in several F1 Tests.
But Friday’s outing will mark his first outing during an actual F1 weekend, with Norris taking over driving duties from Fernando Alonso for Practice One.
“Stepping into @alo_oficial’s car for FP1 on Friday,” Norris wrote on Twitter. “It’ll be my first time in a McLaren on a @F1 race weekend and there’s no better place to do it than Spa.”
Could Norris be part of the F1 2019 grid?
Alonso is to leave F1 at the end of the season, with McLaren already naming Carlos Sainz as the two-time world champion’s replacement.
But Norris is believed to be in contention to replace Stoffel Vandoorne next year and part of the fascination of Friday will be seeing how the pair compare – although the times set in Friday practice sessions are notoriously misleading.
Furthermore, McLaren have recently devoted Friday practice sessions to evaluating new car parts due to calibration issues with their wind tunnel.
“This weekend will be the first time that our reserve driver Lando will drive the MCL33 during a race weekend, as he steps into Fernando’s car for FP1 on Friday,” said sporting director Gil de Ferran.
“This is not only part of his ongoing development, but also the evaluation and performance evolution of the car. We’ll be taking a strategic view race-by-race at where else this might be beneficial for us over the coming grands prix.”
The Belgian GP marks Vandoorne’s home race. But the second half of the season will resume with the 26-year-old fighting to hold on to his McLaren seat for next year after being out-qualified by Alonso in every event this term.
Of McLaren’s 52 points, 44 have been scored by Alonso.
F1 will be back from its summer break with the Belgian GP, live on Sky Sports F1. The race begins at 2.10pm on Sunday, August 26. Get Sky Sports F1 – the home of every race weekend LIVE in 2018.