Eighteen-year-old British racer Lando Norris will replace Stoffel Vandoorne at the McLaren Formula 1 team next season.
The Somerset driver, who is currently in contention for the FIA Formula 2 title, will join 23-year-old Carlos Sainz in an all-new McLaren line-up for 2019. Current team leader Fernando Alonso has stepped away from F1, while Norris will replace Vandoorne, who has driven for the team since 2016.
Norris has been backed by McLaren since the start of last year, and is currently the team's test and reserve driver. He had his first official grand prix outings when he drove Vandoorne’s car in first practice at the Belgian and Italian grands prix.
McLaren team boss Zak Brown said that Norris was “an integral part of our plan for rebuilding our Formula 1 operation for the future.”
He added: “We believe Lando is an exciting talent, full of potential, who we’ve very deliberately kept within the McLaren fold for exactly that reason.”
There had been reports that Toro Rosso approached McLaren earlier this year about a potential F1 seat for Norris.
Norris said: “To be announced as a race driver for McLaren is a dream come true. This is a special moment, one I could only hope would become reality. I’d like to thank the whole team for this amazing opportunity and for believing in me.”
Norris has risen through the ranks rapidly, and 2019 will be just his sixth in car racing. After numerous successes in karting, including winning the world championship, Norris moved into cars in 2014, taking third overall in the Ginetta Junior Championship.
He switched to single-seaters in 2014, winning the MSA Formula title, adding the Formula Renault Eurocup crown the following season.
He then claimed the European Formula 3 Championship in 2017, before stepping up to F2 this season. He won the opening race of the season in Bahrain and has since claimed seven more podiums. He is currently second in the standings, 22 points behind Mercedes junior driver, and fellow Brit, George Russell.