Two-time F1 world champion has departed grand prix racing at the conclusion of the 2018 season, albeit leaving the door open to a future comeback.
His decision to compete elsewhere in 2019, coupled with teammate Stoffel Vandoorne being let go by McLaren, means that the Woking-based team heads into next year with an all-new driver line-up.
CEO Zak Brown left the door open to Alonso trying out the new McLaren – and rookie Norris, who will line up alongside Carlos Sainz in 2019, hinted he would be willing to give up some running to have Alonso sample the car.
“I think [his input] will be very valuable,” Norris said. “He’s got the best idea how the car’s changed over the years, the best experience of what’s good and what’s bad, a lot more than I do.
“I don’t know what’s going to happen, if he’s still going to be part of much. He’s still part of McLaren. It’s up to him.
“I think it would be cool. Of course I would like to have as many days [in the car] as possible but if everyone comes to a decision and thinks it’s for the good of the whole team and his feedback will be just as important as mine or Carlos’s, then I think it’s a good thing.”
Sainz shared his new teammate’s view that it would be a good thing for Alonso to sample the 2019 McLaren.
“It’s something that for sure is in McLaren’s interests, or also Fernando’s interests to keep himself active,” said Sainz.
“It’s a decision more up to the management than to ourselves, but I wouldn’t see it with bad eyes, I would see it as a good thing to have a driver like Fernando comparing cars.”
While McLaren’s finish of sixth in the constructors’ standings in 2018 was a clear improvement on the nadir of the previous year, the campaign itself was a disappointment – as more had been expected after a switch from Honda to Renault power.
The MCL33, fading badly after a reasonable start to the season, was often at the very bottom of the timesheets in the latter half of the year – and Brown freely admitted it was “an extremely pool race car”.
While McLaren underwent major operational changes in 2018, Norris admitted “no one knows” whether the team will be able to turn things around as early as next year.
“[The team] have decent ideas of things they are working on, bits they are trying to improve, all these little things that you’ll say they’ve had lots of data to say is better.
“Things can always change, sometimes it looks good in the wind-tunnel, on the aero mapping or whatever, and you get to the track and it does something slightly different to what you expect.
“Of course they are confident they are making the right changes. There’s been quite a big change in the team and how they are approaching the work for next year, the development.
“They are focusing more on something [that] is 100% better, rather than saying ‘it looks like it’s going to be better’ and putting it on the car.
“I think they have a much better understanding – but only time will tell.”
Lando Norris, McLaren MCL33
Photo by: Joe Portlock / LAT Images