McLaren CEO Brown claims 'franchise driver' Norris is as good as Alonso
Lando Norris is a "franchise driver" and is as good as Formula 1 icon Fernando Alonso, McLaren CEO Zak Brown believes.
The 23-year-old is set for his fifth year with McLaren and has a new teammate for 2023 in Oscar Piastri, resulting in an exciting youthful pairing in F1.
McLaren have high hopes for their future in F1, with Brown recently outlining his objective of competing for the title by 2025, and Norris is an integral part of those plans.
The team have managed to keep Norris out of the clutches of Red Bull, whom he has spoken to in the past, with the young driver tied down until 2025 and seen as a figure McLaren can build around.
Though there is still plenty for Norris to achieve in F1, Brown suggests he is comparable to two-time F1 champion Fernando Alonso.
"Lando's a franchise driver. Lando's one of those guys if we put everyone in a dirt buggy and we put all the F1 drivers in a race, he'd be at the front because he's got that kind of natural talent," Brown told ESPN.
"I think he is as good as anyone on the grid, and I've felt that from day one when I put him against Fernando in the 24 Hours of Daytona, foreign car, foreign track.
"I think Fernando is as good as any F1 driver there's ever been, and Lando matches him, and depending on what time of day it was, maybe he even got him a little bit, and vice versa.
"You see that natural talent. You do get some drivers who are a one-make discipline and you throw them in a unique situation and they don't get up to speed as quickly."
Norris is still waiting for a maiden victory in F1 but he did see Mercedes' George Russell – someone he raced alongside during their junior careers – secure a win last season.
Brown feels that will provide encouragement for the forthcoming campaign.
"He wants to be winning races, I'm sure he knows he can beat George and he has beaten George before... and he goes out and wins," Brown added.
"He's going to be anxious people he's raced with don't get too many more wins before he starts getting his."